[EDITORIALS]Equal access to colleges

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[EDITORIALS]Equal access to colleges

Two physically handicapped youths were admitted to Seoul National University: One blind youth will attend the college of law, and another who has cerebral palsy will enter the medical school. Admissions to one of those two colleges are the goals of many university applicants, so their accomplishments deserve applause. It is our job to nurture these excellent students to grow up as a productive force in our society.
There are many handicapped people in Korea, but the reality is that we do not provide them with the facilities they need to move freely, get a good education or even understand the contents of reference books. Choi Min-seok, who was admitted to the college of law, said, “The worst thing is that there are no Braille texts except for some basic textbooks.” The rights of the visually handicapped have been so ignored that his family members will have to help him by tape-recording the contents of reference books he has to study. It is no wonder that many handicapped youths abandon their studies before completing them.
The situation is no better even in universities. Only 320 students were accepted through a special admissions procedure for the handicapped at 47 universities last year. Most of them were theological schools where the choice of majors was narrow. That shows the huge gap between policy and reality. We hope that Seoul National University’s admission of the two students will lead the way for other universities to open their doors to handicapped applicants.
We have to be reminded that enrollment in a university is not a goal, but only a starting point. Many handicapped students drop out in the middle of their studies because of a lack of facilities and poor understanding on the part of the teaching staff. According to a survey by the Education Ministry, 75 percent of universities in Korea did not give the required support to handicapped students. The government has introduced a special admissions system but did not provide practical support to handicapped students. In order to help such students get admitted by universities and graduate without being thwarted by a lack of facilities, the government and universities mut spare no efforts to give them the needed support.

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