Education policyChung Dong-young, the presidential candidate for the United New Democratic Party, announced his education policy on Monday. Increasing investment in education and putting more emphasis on school academic records is the right thing to do. But replacing the current college entrance exams with qualification tests and having universities select students based only on school records and qualifications such as leadership and character are drastic measures that will eventually collapse our education system. Chung’s camp must have intended to differentiate its education policy from rival Lee Myung-bak, but it is an extremely populist measure.
Chung maintains that the college entrance exams are the culprit that ruined our education system, so we need to have a college entrance system used by advanced countries. However, most advanced countries, including the United States and Japan, guarantee that universities have autonomy in selecting their students.
The public does not trust students’ high school records on a relative scale within their schools. And different performances by different schools are not reflected, so it is hard to determine good students. That is why universities put an emphasis on essay tests.
If universities recruit students based only on their qualification records, there will be no way to gauge different performances by students. That will be the case even if high schools are ranked according to their performances. As a result, getting into college will be like a lottery. Complaints will erupt over scores based on these criteria and private lessons to improve scores will thrive.
A policy that does not consider reality will produce bad results without fail. President Roh Moo-hyun’s education policy is drawn with the illusion of an egalitarian education system.
And that policy has caused chaos and damage. Last year, with Chung as its chairman, the Uri Party decided to increase the quota for students of polytechnic schools to five percent from 2008.
Students had problems because of these students who were not qualified to study but admitted thanks to the quota system. If Chung’s policy is implemented, our university education will collapse.
On Monday, the Korean Council for University Education demanded that the government give authority to universities for recruitment of students and management. The council also said it would have an open debate with the presidential candidates.
In this space, we wrote that rather than enforce a principle based on regulations and egalitarianism, we need to promote autonomy and competition to improve our universities and public education.
All the presidential candidates, including Chung, must attend the debate and present their education policies clearly.