Potential for education

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Potential for education

The presidents of four-year universities in Korea have issued a joint declaration on reforming the university admissions system by doing away with Korea’s grades-oriented university admissions culture. This is the first time the heads of 200 universities have presented a unified front on reform of admissions policies.

The joint declaration represents the universities’ solemn pledge to the nation, giving us good reason to believe we can nurture high expectations for the future of our education system.

Hopefully, this will be a turning point, signifying an end to our reliance on college entrance exam scores and high school grades.

The problems with the admissions system have burdened students and parents alike while wreaking havoc on the nation’s ability to compete in the area of education. We hope the latest declaration will be effective in alleviating these pains.

To do that, the declaration must be followed with specific and decisive action. First, universities and high schools must discuss ways to develop the new admissions process toward reviving public education. Universities and provincial and municipal education offices must establish a working, effective partnership. On Feb. 19 universities in Busan, Ulsan and South Gyeongsang Province and the Busan Metropolitan City Office of Education signed an agreement to introduce a new admissions process that would take students’ reading activity into account. That is a good example of the kind of cooperation that is possible.

We also need to diversify and specify the screening processes for different areas of study. Universities should be open to students who have, if not grades, then special gifts in certain areas. That way, post-secondary education will be more effective and competitive.

And for that to happen, the admissions officer system, still in its infancy, must take firm root. We should do all we can to ensure the credibility, fairness and professionalism of the admissions officer system.

Students and parents are more accustomed to a system in which a students’ fate is decided by test scores that differ by one or two points. Therefore, public acceptance of the admissions officer system, which takes intangible qualities such as a person’s potential into account, will require a certain amount of trust on the part of the public.

Public education is directly affected by the university admissions policies, which is why these university presidents have stepped up to try to fix them.

The presidents should do their utmost to ensure that their new admissions policies, which assess not only grades but potential and creativity, are put into practice and upheld.
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