[EDITORIALS]School policy still muddled

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[EDITORIALS]School policy still muddled

Korea’s teachers’ associations vehemently oppose the decision by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development to test a new system for hiring school principals and to implement an incentive system for teachers. Under the new system, the ministry can select principals from among registered candidates or from people prominent in fields other than education. The Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations complains that the new employment system will bring confusion to the educational system. The Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union called on the ministry to abandon the incentive system, arguing that it would create a hierarchy and conflict among teachers.
It is true that the existing seniority system for appointing principals put limits on carrying out reforms in Korean education. But scrapping the old system of evaluating candidates or introducing the new system in such a hasty way will certainly create chaos.
While keeping the old system of judging applicants’ qualifications, principals could still be appointed based on their competence rather than under a seniority system. A system to employ non-educators as principals could be introduced step by step. That way, the side effects could be minimized and schools could be revitalized. Development of the education system should be achieved through healthy competition.
The opposition from teachers’ associations is probably based on nothing but self-interest. Opposition to an incentive system can be translated into a desire by teachers to divide gains equally among themselves without working too hard.
A former education and culture secretary at the Blue House, Kim Jin-kyung, was the sparkplug for the formation of the teachers unions. But in a newspaper interview yesterday, even he said that the unions are being increasingly estranged from students and parents because they are looking out for the interests of teachers only. He complained that the unions now only interfere with education instead of advancing it.
The Education Ministry also has some heavy responsibility for the problems in education. It announces measures such as the evaluation system for teachers, but it steps back in the face of opposition by teachers’ groups. That only encourages teachers’ groups to keep raising their voices.
For whom does education exist? Is education for the government, teachers’ associations or students? We need to think about that question sincerely.
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