[EDITORIALS]Education reform is urgentThe JoongAng Ilbo recently carried a series of special reports on education reform currently being promoted worldwide. Education reform is a trend. Since education is a growth engine of a country and the fate of a nation depends on it, countries strive to provide the best education to their young people. The focus of education reform is on raising competent talent through competition and evaluation systems, along with the principle of equality.
The new trend is toward returning the right to choose schools and curriculums to students and their parents. The capability of a teaching staff is being increasingly evaluated, and those who do not meet the standards are driven out.
Education centered on providers is being changed to education directed at recipients. To widen the scope of competition, the doors are being opened to overseas competitors. Universities that fail to attract sufficient numbers of students or that have poor profit structures are undergoing urgent structural reform.
What is the situation regarding Korean education? Since the introduction of a standardized education policy 30 years ago, the scholastic ability of students has deteriorated, the cost of private education has skyrocketed and public education is being ruined. And teachers are guaranteed an “iron rice bowl,” meaning that once they are employed their job is guaranteed until their retirement without a re-evaluation.
Members of a teachers’ union are more eager to instill their choice of ideology in students than to fulfill their duties as teachers. The education ministry and provincial education superintendents are busy protecting their interests, insisting on principles of education, when economy-related ministries try to offer a solution.
The short-cut to putting education on track depends on adopting the principle of competition. In that respect, we welcome the education reform program Gyeonggi province is now promoting. It aims at strengthening elite education by establishing 16 high schools specializing in science, foreign languages and international affairs. It is time for the government to take measures to supplement the shortcomings of the standardized education policy. It must establish high schools that provide specialized courses nationwide.