&#91EDITORIALS&#93Proceed with the database

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&#91EDITORIALS&#93Proceed with the database

We support the decision of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources to push ahead with the National Education Informa-tion System, a controversial plan to network the nation’s 11,000 elementary and secondary schools with government education agencies to share student information. Considering that 97 percent of the schools already tap into the database, which features upgraded information security compared to its precursor, the decision was a matter of course. Colleges in the Seoul area already have agreed to use the database in their admission process.
The ministry must not have another about-face. The new system must be a foundation for our catching up with the global trend, “computerization of education.”
The priority for the Education Ministry now is to persuade the Korea Teachers’ and Educational Workers’ Union, which denounced the decision as reneging on a previous agreement. The union plans picketing from June 11 to June14, and a general rally June 20. We believe its politically motivated show of force will put schools in confusion.
If the teachers’ union, as it says, cannot stop worrying about the students’ privacy rights, it should join the Education Ministry’s Committee for School Computerization and work to minimize the factors in the database system that threaten human rights.
The union threatens to work against the system in schools, which is not much different from a pledge to wage a terrorist attack against the education system. If union members are true educators, they must not overlook the current education environment, where distrust is at its height. They must be aware that it is no time for flexing their muscles.
The ministry must contain possible conflict among teachers over the database. Yoon Deok-hong, the education minister, apparently hoping to avoid unpleasantness, has passed the buck to individual school principals to implement the system. We urge Mr. Yoon to step down. It will be easier to persuade the teachers’ union with a new minister on board. We advise President Roh Moo-hyun no longer to side with Mr. Yoon, whose credibility can sink no lower after all his flip-flops.
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