Tasks for the New MinisterUnder the new government organization law, President Kim Dae-jung has appointed Han Wan-sang, president of Sangji University, as deputy prime minister and simultaneously minis of education and human resources. As the head of one of the four administrative teams, the deputy prime minister for education will super the Human Resource Development Council must elaborate key agenda items under his jurisdiction before cabinet meetings. The new council will be composed of nine cabinet minisincluding government administration and home affairs, science and technology, culture and tourism, labor and woman™s affairs, and heads of related offices under the prime minister and the presidential office. Despite the enhancement of the minister''s stawe believe that it is problematic to replace the education chief in five months. It takes time for a minister to grasp the duties of his ministry.
With the launch of the ihPeople''s Government,lo in than three years five education ministers have been changed. Except for Lee Hae-chan, none lasted a year. If the current move is designed to appoint a person suitable for deputy prime minister, the president should have picked such a figure last August because the revision of the organization law was in the offing. How can we expect consistent education policy in this situation? The education sector is required to tackle a gamut of reform tasks. In the era of limitless com- petition, the focus of education reform should be the improvement of competitiveness at schools.
Therefore, it is urgent to set up a system to cultivate gifted students in different areas, notably in science. As we have already pointed out, we cannot afford to delay the introduction of a competitive system to the teaching community as well. Measures to level out academic differences in middle and high schools have weakened com- petitiveness for the past 20 years. Mr. Han must provide alternatives to solve this problem.
We hope that occupational training at technical high schools will be revamped. It is not easy for the graduates of technical high schools to find work, and even those who are lucky enough to land jobs need on-the-job training. A systemat- ic technical education framework should be in place in close linkage with the Ministry of Labor''s occupational education programs.