[EDITORIALS]Don’t mislead studentsTwo teachers’ unions ― the Korea Teachers’ and Educational Workers’ Union and the Korean Association of Teachers ― will launch a week-long education program today to teach all primary and secondary school students about the “South-North Joint Declaration” reached at the inter-Korean summit of 2000. The two unions and the North Korean educational and cultural workers’ union had earlier agreed to hold classes on the declaration simultaneously in the North and South on its fifth anniversary.
It is necessary for students to have a wider understanding of the meaning of the joint declaration. The fact that the president of South Korea and the chairman of the Defense Commission of North Korea held a historical summit in Pyongyang has contributed to the development of inter-Korean relations. But when we explain current affairs, especially inter-Korean affairs, to young students, it is necessary to provide them with balanced information. If we only emphasize the meaning of the declaration, it is likely that the students will be misled. It is important to explain the positive aspects of the declaration, but what must also be explained is which parts of the declaration have not been implemented, and where the responsibility for that lies.
There are many problems with the “Draft Plan for a Joint Class on South-North Joint Declaration” prepared by the teachers’ union. It emphasizes “the grand idea of opening the future of the nation independently through North-South cooperation.” There is no mention of the fact that the declaration has become a mere scrap of paper thanks to the insincerity of the North. The promised return visit to Seoul by the North’s Defense Commission chairman has not materialized, and inter-Korean dialogue has been stalled for the past year and a half. The draft fails to mention the North’s nuclear weapons program, or the drifting of the six-party talks meant to address it. It only offers students the illusion that “there is no problem in inter-Korean relations” and that “unification can be achieved if both Koreas cooperate.”
It is better not to hold biased classes that distort the facts. The teachers’ union shouldn’t let students fall into the mire of ideology. The educational authorities shouldn’t let this class be taught unfiltered. They must examine its contents and make sure it follows the right direction.