An important resourceSeoul National University and the Korea Association of Private University Presidents made public demands Wednesday and yesterday that the Education Ministry abolish its “Three Nos” policy. The government prohibits universities from conducting their own entrance exams, ranking high schools and receiving donations in return for a particular student’s admission.
The government claims that if universities conduct their own entrance exams, it will encourage private education, but that is not the case. The ban on ranking high schools is also unrealistic. It is only natural that the average scores for a special-purpose high school, such as a foreign language school, and regular high schools will be different, because talented students flock to the special-purpose schools.
The Education Ministry repeatedly pledges that it will eliminate the need for private tutoring, but the ministry is actually responsible for the tutoring boom in Korea. The ministry changes university admission policies year by year and pressures high schools and universities to follow the flip-flopping guidelines.
Revolution is ongoing in the global education community, but Korea is unfortunately running in the opposite direction. Because Korea lacks natural resources, education is what gives us a competitive edge. Through education, we managed to accomplish “the miracle on the Han River” out of the ashes of the war. What will happen to Korea’s future if public education collapses? We have continuously argued that universities should be entitled to their admission policies. We also recommended that special purpose schools and independent high schools should be increased in number.
During last year’s local election more than 1,000 pledges were made to build special-purpose high schools. And yet, the Education Ministry repeatedly intervenes, blocking the establishment of international middle schools, special-purpose schools and independent high schools.
Kim Shin-il, deputy prime minister for education, in a paper he planned to publish before his inauguration last year, criticized Korean schools for losing their specialties because of standardization. Our high hopes that Mr. Kim would revise this nation’s education policy only turned into disappointment. The new education revolution appears to be a task of the next administration. The presidential hopefuls should present their visions for education in order to salvage this nation’s public education system.