[Letter to the editor]Let universities compete for excellence

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[Letter to the editor]Let universities compete for excellence

Globalization has spread throughout the world, and as a result, the competency of universities has become more important than ever. Education must be made more efficient by being forced into the market model, moving away from the traditional concept of education as a publicly provided social good. However, looking over the actual conditions of our current education system, it seems that we are going against the tide rather than endeavoring to keep up with globalization. It is now time to revise the education system into one that values the universities’ rights in order to become a competitive, powerful country that is well integrated into the globalized world.
The current regulations prohibiting universities from conducting their own educational entrance exams, giving credit for classes at certain specialized high schools and admitting students of families who donate money to schools definitely interfere with nourishing superior universities.
President Roh insists that the so-called “three nos” policy is suitable to provide equal opportunities for both the rich and the poor. He expects to make providing equal education the norm in the education system. However, the current regulations have neither normalized education programs nor improved the quality of education. According to the National Statistical Office, tuition at private universities has increased 7.1 percent over a year earlier. Not only the poor are struggling under the burden of high tuition fees; ordinary students are discontented as well. It turns out that universities in the United States accept donations to provide more opportunities for the poor to receive higher education.
Having one rich student donating money provides scholarship funds for needy students and also reduces the general tuition fees, providing more equality of opportunity.
In addition, maintaining the current “egalitarian” education system will harm the whole society. The results of pushing forward with the current education plan tell us why: a decline in overall scholarship in the nation and the so-called prestigious schools not included among the world’s 100 best universities.
In a recent speech, President Roh Moo-hyun emphasized competitiveness in the globalized world. He recognizes the fact that it is essential to learn English as a second language in order to be competitive in an interconnected world.
I wonder what makes him think that foreign language high schools are going against his policy and harming society. Language is not learned for its sake alone, but as the means to communicate in the global world. Nurturing intelligent students with fluent foreign language skills who have the potential to become leaders of the world will definitely give an advantage to our nation.
By acknowledging the fact that competition is the only way to survive in the globalized world, President Roh should encourage competitive students to learn in prestigious schools rather than criticizing them.
In a liberal democratic country such as Korea, the government ought to provide liberal rights to universities, as clearly stated under article 31 of the Constitution. Universities should decide their own tests to recruit superior students who fit their schools best.
Education is a nation’s fundamental source of strength. Revising the deteriorated policies of the government is a first step toward growing into a powerful country.
Lee Kang-eun, a senior at Ewha Girls’Foreign Language High School
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