Correcting wrongsKim Shin-il, deputy prime minister of education, has stepped down from his post 20 days before the Roh Moo-hyun administration ends.
Kim said he resigned to assume responsibility for the policy confusion surrounding the selection of universities that would be eligible to set up U.S.-style law schools.
Over the past 17 months, Kim has shown near-perfection in coordinating education policies with the president.
But at the end of Roh’s term, Kim staged a rebellion when the Blue House and the Education Ministry clashed over the selection of law schools.
But people are skeptical as to whether or not Kim has acted correctly in his position as a civil servant.
Kim has been known as an advocate of “self-regulation” from his time as a professor until he assumed the role of the chief education policymaker.
At the time of his appointment to government, politicians have questioned his focus on self-regulation.
Nevertheless, Kim has led the Roh administration’s education policy, which bucks the international trend, at the end of its term and he has turned his back on self-regulation.
Examples abound of the way Kim was central to forcing universities to include high school performance records as part of the admissions process and the policy to restrict special-purpose high schools.
Both policies are destined to be changed by the incoming administration, but the Roh administration was obstinate in pushing them forward, prompting chaos in schools.
Kim has stood at the center of the chaos. As a minister, it is difficult for Kim to challenge the Blue House. However, it is right for him to correct the wrong, even if it will cost his job, if he believes the policy is going in the wrong direction.
That is the whole purpose of appointing a figure with capability and insight to this kind of post.
An education minister should reject politically-motivated policies that are irrelevant to the nation’s educational competitiveness.
Kim’s resignation will be a lesson to the incoming administration. The new Blue House and the new education minister must remember that they are civil servants.
GNP Representative Lee Joo-ho has been designated as a senior secretary of the Blue House and the new education minister may not have a strong say, which is why we want an education chief policymaker with conviction and the ability to convince others.