[EDITORIALS]Ideas, yes; egos, no

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[EDITORIALS]Ideas, yes; egos, no

Our two deputy prime ministers are clashing over reform of the education system. Jin Nyum, on the economic side, has been at the forefront of critics of standardized high school education. On Thursday, he opened fire again, saying that colleges should be allowed to decide whether to accept students in return for financial contributions to the schools.

The Education Ministry, which is headed by the other deputy prime minister, kept its peace when Mr. Jin asserted a month ago that education under Japanese colonial rule was better than it is now. But this time, the Education Ministry did issue a press statement saying it was premature to talk about a donation-for-admission scheme and that standardized high school education is something to be improved but not scrapped. The education minister reaffirmed that position at a presidential briefing on Friday. It looks like a power struggle.

Education is a long-term policy issue, and intellectual clashes are to be encouraged as clashes of ego should be suppressed. But the people need discussions that lead to sound policies, not quarrels in the cabinet. The Education Ministry does not have to have a monopoly on education policy. Mr. Jin has ideas, and the two ministries should pool their resources to examine which approach is better. Education is not an area that, as Mr. Jin appears to be suggesting, can be left solely to the market. On the other hand, "national consensus" is an increasingly feeble justification for maintaining the "same-for-all" education and the ban on an "admission for donations" system.

These days, we need more competition than equity in education. Autonomy and competition are needed because our country has to develop brainpower to compete in the world. The Korea Development Institute's Vision 2011 Project put high priority on more competition in education, saying it was one of the most important issues facing the nation over the next decade. There should be no place for populist ideas in education policy or impulsive outbursts of personal views. The deputy prime minister for education should pool the resources of all ministries to draw up sound plans.
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