[Letters] Balancing students’ and teachers’ rights

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[Letters] Balancing students’ and teachers’ rights

Some city and provincial education offices are hurrying to establish an ordinance on students’ human rights, but concerns arise that the content would largely infringe upon the right of teachers to educate their students.

According to the draft of the ordinance, students are to be guaranteed the right to choose extra classes, extracurricular activities, their hair styles, dress codes and ownership of mobile phones and electronic devices at schools.

The draft also states that competitive education will be banned.

Such ideas largely violate the right of teachers to decide their teaching methods, stipulated in the laws governing the basis of education in elementary, middle and high schools.

It is particularly worrisome to allow young students’ political activities to influence school environments. If such permission is granted, outside political forces will directly and indirectly infiltrate schools and affect the education of students. The schools will become political venues if students frequently hold rallies over various issues, including trivial matters.

Whether a student wants it or not, the students’ right to study will be infringed upon and teachers’ authority will be seriously threatened. Such a situation could eventually lead to the fall of our education system’s competitiveness.

The system, content and methods of school education are the historical products of the nation. Instead of defending the students’ rights passively, public education promotes a grander goal of supporting students’ self-realization.

If the demands of the students are simply accepted, the professionalism of teachers and experiences of parents will no longer have meaning. Traditions will die and students will lose their dreams.

This is not a groundless concern. In the United States, the drop-out rate of high school students has gone over 10 percent. Sociologists affirm that youth-related problems are a national crisis.

If guaranteeing students’ rights is the sole goal here, the city and provincial education offices must give up the attempt to establish the ordinance. Instead, they should modify the students’ charter or formulate a new approach to deal with the situation from a broader perspective.


Jo Ju-haeng, headmaster of Junghwa High School
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