Show backbone, professorsIt is reported that some of the professors from Seoul National University and Korea University are angry at the Education Ministry and President Roh Moo-hyun. They believe the government has seriously stepped on the schools’ autonomy.
What Roh did to 150 college heads at a conference held at the Blue House a few days ago was simply an attempt to show contempt toward the universities. Roh is obsessed with the authority he now has, and is trying to control the educational policy by populism. He is nearly a dictator himself. The autonomy and honor the universities have achieved did not come easily. It is time that schools protect themselves.
In any country, a university president represents intellectuality. But Roh notified them only a week before the meeting. Education Minister Kim Sin-il, who was a professor himself, took the lead in embarrassing them. The meeting was supposed to be an occasion to listen to school heads. But it was only Roh who said what he wanted to say. He made threats that if the schools do not follow the ministry’s plan to raise the weight given to high school grades to 50 percent of the overall admission criteria in 2008, there will be “corresponding measures.” He made cynical remarks to the chancellors that “successful people should not behave as you do.” Even in the past dictatorship such comments were not heard. The occasion was a rare black comedy you can find nowhere else in the world.
But colleges have some responsibility for why Roh is acting with such arrogance. The Education Ministry often made threats of administrative and financial disadvantages so that schools would follow unreasonable education policies. The final victims are the schools and their students. But schools feared the sanctions and were dragged along. Even on the day of the conference, there was no school head who stood up to Roh’s one-man show. It was embarrassing. In the past, during the military dictatorship, many professors fought endlessly for freedom in the darkness. But now that we have a democracy, the professors are silent against a government that is destroying our education system.
If universities give up their honor and autonomy for money, such schools do not deserve to cry for autonomy. There’s no future for such schools, or a society that has such schools. It is time to choose.
Professors should criticize the government for its wrongdoing and colleges should not give in to any pressure.
Colleges should choose the hard way for their students sake.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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