[EDITORIALS]Students caught in middleThe National Human Rights Commission of Korea has said that housing some information in the National Education Information System might violate the human rights of students and it is better if such information were deleted before the computerized network goes into full service.
The recommendation has caused confusion among schools nationwide. If the Education Ministry follows the recommendation, high school teachers will have to complete documents, like the school-life records required for students who apply for university seats during the spring term, by hand.
The recommendation to exclude information on school records, health, enrollment and entrance into higher schools out of the 27 categories in the NEIS seems to be excessively faithful to the principles of human rights protection. The government has already invested some 50 billion won ($42 million)in NEIS, and schools will experience enormous confusion if ordered to use the old database. It would also reverse the policy adopted two years ago to promote computerization of all government-held information.
The education minister has repeatedly vowed to follow the commission’s decision. Now, the ministry is in a dilemma. If it follows the panel’s recommendation, teachers would have to retrieve the old system. It is not easy to refuse the recommendation, which the minister repeatedly has expressed a willingness to accept. The minister must reflect on his actions since his careless and irresponsible words brought this confusion. As the recommendation is not legally binding, in deciding whether to accept it, the ministry must only consider students and schools, not its previous position. The NEIS is needed for university applications. Anti-hacking measures must be installed to protect the data.
The Teachers and Educational Workers Union should not press hard on the ministry, threatening a tough struggle. If the union lashes out, students will encounter difficulties preparing applications for university admission. We hope the union will attend the ministry’s NEIS meeting and help solve the difficulties of our educational system.