Educating Mr. KimLast year, when Kim Shin-il was appointed as the education minister, many parents were hopeful. But he helped create confusion in the college entrance system so countless students and parents are in agony.
Before entering office, Kim criticized the egalitarianism-oriented education system and stressed the importance of having special education for smart students, diversifying schools, giving universities autonomy in selecting students and enhancing competitiveness. After assuming his post, his stance changed entirely. When the Blue House criticized elite foreign language high schools, he identified these schools as the culprits in the thriving private tutoring business and led the move to suppress these schools.
Now the education minister is forcing universities to reflect the school performance of students on a relative scale amounting to more than 50 percent of total scores in the admission process. The level of student performance varies a great deal from school to school and from neighborhood to neighborhood. The universities maintain that increasing the weight of student school records in this way will be disadvantageous to many smart students, and they oppose the ministry’s guideline. Deputy Prime Minister Kim is aware of this, but, in accordance with the Blue House’s will, he is putting pressure on the universities.
Two months ago, Seoul National University announced that it would give the same score to students in the first tier and those in the second tier. The education ministry said there was no problem with that. But it later changed course after President Roh Moo-hyun criticized some private universities’ move to give the same scores to students with scores from the first to the fourth tiers. The ministry told Seoul National University to give different scores to students with different grades. The university refused and says that change would cause confusion in recruiting new students and make it hard to predict results.
But the education ministry was persistent. It threatens universities with possible financial and administrative sanctions. It would be better to do without an education ministry if it keeps causing trouble and chaos.
In the Roh administration it is said that a former education minister was fired because he opposed the Blue House’s attempt to increase the ratio of students’ school records in total scores for admission to college.
We wonder for whom Deputy Prime Minister Kim works in his position.