Monitor education fundThe scandal of high government officials at the Education, Science and Technology Ministry giving special funds to their alma maters and their children’s school is making us question our society. Is South Korea such a naive country? People watching the situation feel fear beyond insecurity. It is because they cannot trust the government’s management where their tax money is being used by civil servants. President Lee Myung-bak proclaimed this year ?? the 60th year since the foundation of the country ?? as the beginning of a developed country. He thus emphasized change. The recent scandal is circumstantial evidence that unless there are changes in the system, then the march toward a developed country is an empty call.
The special education fund is such a case. Of the more than 110 billion won ($1 billion) budgeted for this, 30 percent can be used for local education, but the procedures and the subject of support are not clearly defined by law. Thus, when a minister visits a school, the funds are used to donate money to schools without any principles. Politicians are not likely to leave this alone. They frequently press the ministry to donate money to schools in their constituency.
It is surprising and deploring that such a system still exists.
The government and the National Assembly should immediately resolve this. Basically, they should shrink the fund and the education tax.
They should specify in fair and objective standards for the selection of schools to receive funds and the amount to be donated and make the process transparent. Only then can we curtail the lobbying of politicians and prevent ministers and high government officials from exercising influence.
Post-donation management should also be strengthened.
The National Assembly should approve and investigate the use of the donated funds and check if they are being used properly through on-site auditing. It is not enough for the responsible government service to check documents by region and audit out of formality. The Board of Audit and Inspection should step forth to strengthen on-site auditing by meticulously inspecting each local unit.
It is only appropriate that people know where their tax money is used and by what standards. That is a right of the people and only when such a right is guaranteed is this a democratic country.
If we don’t correct reckless use of tax money, then this is not a government moving toward a developed country.