[EDITORIALS]Educational flip-floppingYoon Deok-hong, the minister of education and human resources development, changed his stance again about the controversial National Education Information System, or NEIS. He said the system is not going to be scrapped or suspended, but it is merely being shelved for six months and will be taken up again. That statement comes two days after the government buckled to pressure from the Korea Teachers and Educational Workers Union and agreed to leave a few of the items out of the system. This is the fifth time that the government has changed its mind on the system, and the public is bound to be confused by the flip-flop.
School teachers are already using the new system, and most of the school boards of the country’s 16 major jurisdictions are opposed to the idea of going back to the old school management system. The ministry’s plan to reconsider the database just has not been convincing. A large part of the responsibility falls on Mr. Yoon for mishandling the issue. He has been positive to the idea of inevitably adopting the new system when talking to ministry officials or members of a committee on upgrading educational information systems. But as soon as he stands in front of the teachers’ union, he quickly switches his position and agrees that the new system may possibly be an invasion of privacy.
Schools last year were chaotic to say the least. It is appalling that the Education Ministry is making very little sense. The Korean Federation of Teachers Association and school principals are among the groups calling for Mr. Yoon’s dismissal. Ministry officials’ discontent with Mr. Yoon is growing. Both reactions are not surprises.
Mr. Yoon must understand that he has made the matter worse by not telling the truth about his agreement with the Korea Teachers and Educational Workers Union to average teachers and the educational community. President Roh Moo-hyun is not helping the matter by saying that the teachers’ union must be dealt with by law, then wondering whether the compromise made was too big. The government at this point must make clear its position. That would be a start.