[Outlook]A clear vision for education

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[Outlook]A clear vision for education

There are less than five months left before the presidential election. The Grand National presidential hopefuls act as if once one of them is nominated by the party, he or she will be elected president for sure. Because of this, they are busy attacking only each other.
The liberal circle’s presidential hopefuls are low in the polls, making it hard to predict who their candidate will be.
This set of circumstances makes it impossible to know who the presidential candidates will be and how each of them plans to lead the country for five years if elected.
There is not much time left for voters to decide which candidate has what it takes to lead the country.
The next five years that the next president will be in office are very crucial for the future of our country.
Fundamental changes are taking place in the world that can be called a major shift in the history of civilization.
We are living in a knowledge-based society entirely different from an agricultural or industrial one. The creativity to produce new knowledge and information and global competitiveness define the future of a country and its individuals.
If a country clings to its old fashioned education system in this era of drastic changes, no matter how strong, it will end up collapsing.
China and the Ottoman Empire were past superpowers in terms of their militaries and economies.
But after the late 1550s, these countries fell behind Western countries.
Historians say that the most critical factor was their education systems.
The Ottoman Empire and China did not educate the populace using their advanced printing technology, but instead stuck to old-fashioned methods of forcing people to memorize and recite texts or practice calligraphy.
As we’ve entered the 21st century, leaders of the world, such as former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, have done their best to establish systems suited to a knowledge-based society.
Korean leaders do not seem to see this trend, so Korea is retaining an education system that is not even good enough for the industrial era.
The incumbent administration is so blindly obsessed with egalitarianism, it has even enhanced the old-fashioned education system.
As a result, tens of thousands of students in elementary, middle and high schools go abroad to study. Entire families emigrate for children’s schooling.
Students who remain in Korea go to school because they have to, but they doze off in class.
If this education system persists into the next administration, Korean education will simply collapse.
The next president must be able to bring the system up to global standards.
He or she must establish various types of schools to train students to be leaders in a knowledge-based, global society.
The next president also must give the schools autonomy.
Talented students must be supported to advance as far as they can, and ordinary students must be encouraged to take pride in themselves.
The new president must present people with a new vision for education, a substantial education policy and strategies to implement it.
If our education system develops and advances very far in the future, talented students in other countries will compete to study in Korea.
On entering office, the first thing for the next president to do is to revise the education law and the private schools act, which are full of government interference and regulations.
The new president also needs to mend the administration of education to prepare the foundation for a new educational system.
The new president must carry this out with a clear education blueprint, and he or she must do the job in the early days of the new administration when he or she has strong support.
Election day is coming near, but a presidential hopeful who presents a vision and a blueprint for education is nowhere to be seen.
The hot weather isn’t the only reason why we feel stuffy and heavy in the chest.

*The writer is a professor of education at Hanyang University.

by Cheong Jean-gon
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