[Campus commentary]New education system fails the disabledKorea’s Constitution gives everyone the right to be educated. In the past, this meant that everyone had an equal opportunity to get an education.
However, with welfarism, the meaning has shifted from the right to receive such a chance to the right to receive a good education.
In spite of the explicit provision in the Constitution, the government is planning a new, poor-quality system for the special education of disabled children.
A few months ago, the Ministry of Education announced it would allow people who did not major in education for the disabled to become teachers in the field.
The government also said it will permit people who studied to become physical therapist assistants to be teachers of the disabled.
Physical therapist assistants graduate from two-year junior colleges, but only complete a four-credit teacher training course. They are usually employed to help teachers keep children attentive in class.
Moreover, they usually provide medical rather than educational services.
In contrast, professional teachers are graduates of four-year colleges who had to go through a full teacher training course.
I think the government’s policy is inappropriate. The right to education must be more focused on learning.
Due to the importance of education, not just anybody can be a teacher. In addition, the particular educational needs of disabled children demand more professional teachers since the disabled have some difficulty adapting to classes and studying. If the government’s plan goes into effect, it will charge more poorly trained teachers charged with educating those children.
The quality of education will fall.
Furthermore, the government has not tried to discuss whether to adopt the revised teacher appointment system with education experts. The revised system will fundamentally redefine special education and the training of its teachers.
However, this administrative measure appears to have been devised by certain interest groups rather than the special education community. Even I suspect the government’s action was influenced by lobbyists.
In making the policy, the government should have gathered opinions from relevant people, including special education professionals, the disabled and student-teachers. The absence of discussion and debate proves that the measure is crude and arbitrary, which will have a bad effect on special education.
Everyone wants to receive a high-quality education. The handicapped are no exception.
In Korean society, where welfare conditions are poor and biases against the handicapped prevail, the right to an education is essential to help them avoid being marginalized.
As far as the handicapped are concerned, education is concerned with future employment; from the government’s perspective, education is human resource development. What’s more, with education they can [be equipped to] interact with other people and become good members of society. It’s time to ask: Is the government depriving the handicapped of the right to live in equality?
*The writer is a reporter for The Argus, a newspaper at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
by Yun Ji-hun