&#91EDITORIALS&#93Stop shopping around

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[EDITORIALS]Stop shopping around

The appointment of a deputy prime minister for education has been delayed since the inauguration of Roh Moo-hyun. There were a few candidates for the post, but they were criticized by civic groups for such reasons as “not being reform-minded” and “having supported a certain candidate during the presidential race.” Mr. Roh has postponed the appointment while civic groups criticized the candidates on the Internet. Why is Mr. Roh hesitating? Is it because his education philosophy has been swayed? If he wants to read the minds of civic groups, isn’t that another form of populism?
Mr. Roh has pledged that he will appoint an education minister who will remain in the post until the end of his term in office. He has defined the qualifications for the post: Someone reform-minded, community-conscious, people-oriented, management-driven -- and favored by different educational institutions. It is difficult to understand why Mr. Roh, who has such clear criteria in mind, has failed to find a suitable person for more than two months. Of course, it is not easy to find one with all those qualifications, but it’s not good to continue to shop around for one.
There are two different views on education reform in our society. One is egalitarianism, which emphasizes education on the community consciousness. The other is a belief that competitiveness in education will be enhanced in response to globalization. The recent move against one of the candidates has to do with a rivalry between those two views. But it is not right to leave the position vacant endlessly, only because civic groups resist an appointment. If the post is filled with someone favored by civic groups, the president will be overwhelmed by the groups’ demands until he leaves office, and education reform will be a tired story.
It is important to appoint someone who understands the basics of education. Whether he is reform-minded or with a background in university education only, someone who can cure one of Korea’s educational ailments should be named to the post. An education policy that can enhance creativity and excellence in students will be applauded. A deputy prime minister for education should be appointed without any further delays.
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