[EDITORIALS]Why so many job seekers?A total of 228 candidates for the post of deputy prime minister for education and human resources development have been recommended to the presidential transition team. Apparently such a large number of applicants is needed to find someone who can solve Korea's education problems. Reviewing the profiles of the candidates, we find that they are experienced people with their own views on education. We harbor, however, some worries over entrusting the nation's educational system to them. Some of them are known for their ideologically biased operation of schools in the past. Some others have played key roles in previous administrations taking part in the establishment and implementation of eduction policies. They cannot avoid responsibility for the failures.
During the five years of the Kim Dae-jung administration, the nation saw seven education ministers. The frequent changes in the post have to do with a lack of principles in education. We put our hope in President-elect Roh Moo-hyun, who said, "I will appoint an education minister who will stay for five years." In order to establish "a correct education policy," Mr. Roh and his team should seriously consider this appointment.
The first priority in selecting an education minister should be the ability to boost our education competitiveness. The urgent task ahead of a new education minister will be erasing the negative effects of standardized education. The new minister should encourage academic excellence and competitiveness. He or she should not hold an ideological bias. He or she should be able to develop efficient education policies and have strong management skills to secure a sufficient budget. Also of utmost importance is a determination to rehabilitate public education, leading high schools to more specialized fields and increasing university autonomy.
We have witnessed many reform programs promoted by previous administrations adrift. We are especially worried about the view of some in the civic groups and on the transition team who consider education reform the same as destroying the monopoly over educational institutions. Such a biased view will not help boost the competitiveness of Korea's education.