Education head apologizes for corruption casesEducation Minister Ahn Byong-man yesterday offered a public apology for the school corruption cases that have surfaced in recent months.
“To the public, I am truly sorry,” Ahn said during an emergency meeting with city education heads from all over the nation. “We have no hope if the education sector, which above all other sectors must keep its purity and transparency, can’t escape from these cases.”
Ahn said the ministry will oversee detailed investigations into each principal, teacher or related personnel alleged to be corrupt.
He said a task force will be formed to create a comprehensive road map to prevent future corruption in the education sector. Details about the plan will be announced early next month.
In addition, the ministry is planning to change the present personnel system, particularly that which appoints school commissioners and principals. The ministry said that in selecting school commissioners, it will not allow “subjective” evaluations, and it will hire people from outside the education offices to participate in interviews.
During the meeting, Ahn also addressed this week’s reports about students improperly enrolling at self-governing private high schools in Seoul. He said there will be a thorough investigation of the students who enrolled at the schools by breaking regulations.
On Wednesday, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education announced that any student who enrolled at Seoul’s self-governing private high schools by falsely claiming to be from a low-income or single-parent family will be transferred to a regular high school in his or her residential area.
Seoul’s 13 self-governing high schools, which are expected to launch early next month, are required to fill 20 percent of their student capacity each year with students from disadvantaged families.
However, many schools had a difficult time meeting this requirement, and instead accepted students who do not fall under the “social welfare” category.
In many cases, the ministry said teachers from the self-governing schools called up middle school teachers and told them that the application period had been extended.
They asked the teachers to submit applications from students, especially those with good grades, who had been rejected during the first round of screening.
The Seoul education office said yesterday that around 250 students were found to have enrolled this way.
The students’ parents said they were furious at the Seoul education office’s announcement.
“My child’s middle school teacher told us to apply, saying that only a teacher recommendation was needed. Being forced to transfer to another school will leave a scar on my child for the rest of his life,” said Go, 52, whose son is enrolled at a self-governing high school in Seoul.
But Yoo Young-gook, the head of the education policy division at the Seoul education office, countered, “Even if some students enrolled again at the self-governing schools upon the insistence of teachers, the bottom line is that if they can’t prove that they are from low-income families, they are not qualified for enrollment under the ‘social welfare’ program.”
Ahn said that he will collect a list of all the parents who abused the enrollment system to their children’s advantage.
By Cho Jae-eun [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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