[NETIZENS’ VOICE]We really need equality of opportunity

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[NETIZENS’ VOICE]We really need equality of opportunity

Thinking of equality in education reminds me of the pathetic experience undergone by Eastern European countries and China. These countries mesmerized their people under the motto of equality and balance which in the end failed and led to change in the political system. China still wears the label socialism, but after its economic reform opening, mottos such as equality and balance disappeared. Contradicting itself, the state is now promoting xianfulun, an argument for helping capable people get rich first, as advanced ideology.
However, in Korea, just like an old pop song that is in vogue again, the motto of equality and balance has reappeared. I am concerned about this. I agree with those who point out that our politicians, based largely on populism, are not about to give up the “equalization show” to maintain support from the nation’s middle and lower classes, which make up more than 80 percent of the population.
It is paradoxical that the Park Chung-hee regime, which governed with the motto of anticommunism,started this fondness for equalization. I have two guesses why: First, the government, which lacked legitimacy, may have wanted to build its base of support by winning over the middle and lower classes. The second hunch centers on the issue of the president’s son advancing to a higher education level. This to me is why starting the equalization policy is immoral and could be even referred to as a sin among the policies of the Park Chung-hee regime. It has been the same afterward, with every regime following the Park Chung-hee administration putting on the equalization show and making political use of education policy.
Since the people in the administration have always thought this way, their stance does not seem paradoxical. On the other hand, there is a question that raises concern. What if it is not a show for equalization and they will try to seriously and actively install this policy and later expand it?
Recently, the Ministry of Education made its position clear by saying, “Systems that aim to break the framework of equalization cannot be allowed,” when asked whether it would authorize establishment of international middle schools where everything will be taught in English. The Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union takes the same position. Why can’t the framework of equality be broken? For whom and for what does this equality exist?
After the feudal system collapsed, the country’s experiment with socialism turned out to be a failure, and in Korea these days where democratization has been established ― maybe even a bit excessively ― if equality is needed, it could only be equality in opportunities.
The current equality promoted by education policies is nothing less than a political concept seeking to advance political interests. What we need to do is reveal that in truth the political powers-that-be are promoting equality to pander to the middle and lower classes.
What we really need is a guarantee of equality in opportunities ― to reward hard work and allow people to develop according to each one’s abilities. To achieve this, opportunities for students and parents to choose schools and for schools to select students should be guaranteed and expanded. I wish that the people would now dispose of that way of thinking, that the concept of equality and balance as we’ve known it are just fine and good.

by Park In-sung
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