Let the universities decideKim Shin-il, the deputy prime minister for education, has decided to tour educational offices in cities and provinces and meet parents in a bid to promote the current government regulations regarding university entrance systems. The regulations prohibit universities from holding their own entrance examinations, giving weighted credits for classes at certain high schools and admitting students who donate money to schools. He seems to be doing so because an increasing number of people agree that the regulations must be abolished. However, many universities believe the regulations limit their competitiveness and block educational improvements.
The deputy prime minister says the current regulations must stay in place to protect the people’s right to receive an equal education, to normalize education in junior high and high schools and to ease the burdens that students face. However, excessive regulations on university entrance systems lower the quality of our education. The government intervenes in the rights of universities to recruit students and denies that there are differences in the levels of different high schools. The government’s measures regarding college entrance exams are losing credit while the private tutoring business thrives.
The major reason is President Roh Moo-hyun’s philosophy on education and his obsession with an egalitarian education system. The deputy prime minister is supposed to advise the president with the truth. But he has abandoned his own convictions for competition and autonomy and is following the president’s ideals. With these people leading our educational system, it is hard to expect it to go in the right direction.
That’s why people say our education will become all right only after the Education Ministry shuts down.
Seoul and Washington recently signed a free trade agreement. Opening our doors to competition is the spirit of the deal. President Roh achieved the deal despite vigorous protests from his former supporters. He had the logic that opening our doors to competition was the only way to survive. That is true.
However, he stresses regulations and equality in education, while ignoring autonomy and competition.
The more fierce competition gets between countries, the more talented people are needed. Soon our education sector will be open, too.
To prepare for that, we need to give more autonomy to universities in order to boost competitiveness in our education.