[EDITORIALS]Unfair discrimination

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[EDITORIALS]Unfair discrimination

The government said Thursday that in 2007 it would begin a quota system for hiring government officials who are graduates of provincial universities.
Graduates of those universities, under this system, would take the government examinations for senior civil service positions in administration, foreign affairs and finance. If the pool of successful examinees did not contain at least 20-percent representation from provincial schools, the government would hire additional persons to bring the number of new hires from provincial universities up to 20 percent of its total intake.
The intent is to narrow the wide gap in prestige between Seoul schools and provincial ones, but it also can be seen as a violation of equal-opportunity clauses in our Constitution. It was also hastily cobbled together as part of the April legislative election campaign.
The problem of reverse discrimination would be a serious one. If someone with poor examination results were hired only because he graduated from a provincial school, who would compensate the graduates from universities in Seoul for their relative deprivation? In an examination where competition is open, it is not right to give preferential favors to certain applicants. Some people might refer to the minority protection programs in the United States, but local university graduates are not a minority in Korean society. The government examination for civil service is open to everybody, and no provincial college graduates are discriminated against in preparing for or taking the examination.
It is difficult to understand why the plan popped up without a national consensus and only a few months before the legislative elections. The obvious answer is that it is a pork-barrel policy. It was also not proper that President Roh Moo-hyun said at a press conference with Gangwon provincial news media, “I will totally restructure the examination system with the determination to lead a revolution.” The idea of giving favors to provincial people by manipulating the government examination results is wrong from the start. Instead of trying to give unreasonable favors, the government should set up a plan to boost the quality of provincial colleges. With such favoritism, balanced provincial development will never come.
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