Final textbook changes are ordered

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Final textbook changes are ordered


Vice Education Minister Na Seung-il holds a press conference yesterday at the Ministry of Education in Jongno District, central Seoul yesterday, announcing the ministry’s order for seven publishers of high school history textbooks to make 41 revisions before the next academic year begins. [NEWSIS]

The Ministry of Education yesterday ordered seven publishers of high school history textbooks to make 41 revisions before the next academic year begins.

Publishers that refuse to obey the order will be stopped from publishing their books.

After reviewing textbooks by eight publishers, the ministry recommended them last month to make a total of 829 revisions after controversy flared about their ideological biases. While the publishers accepted most of the recommendations, seven publishers still need to make 41 more changes, the ministry said.

The textbook by Kyohak Publishing Company was criticized for having a conservative bias, while the seven other textbooks were accused of containing left-leaning content.

The ministry’s revision order is the first in five years since it ordered Kumsung Publishing Company to make changes in 2008.

Among the seven publishers ordered to make revisions, the Kyohak Publishing Company and Kumsung Publishing Company were ordered to make the most. They were each ordered to make eight alterations.

Liber was the only publisher that received no correction order.

While most changes were linked to North Korean issues, one of the revision orders made for the Kumsung textbook was about its description of the Park Chung Hee presidency.

The textbook said the government of Park, the late father of current President Park Geun-hye, pushed forward economic development through foreign investments and export-driven growth policy, and the programs had both achievements and ill effects, adding that it was the reason of the 1997 foreign exchange crisis in Korea.

The ministry said there were not enough correlations between the 1997 crisis and the Park Chung Hee government, and ordered Kumsung to make a revision.

After the ministry’s revision recommendations last month, the publishers reviewed the suggested changes and submitted their revision plans on Nov. 1. The ministry created a review board by inviting 15 experts on Nov. 14 and cross-checked the plans with its recommendations.

The ministry, however, did not make public who were on the board, which publishers criticized.

The ministry said it will receive another round of revision plans by Dec. 3 and review them again. The final decision on the fate of the textbooks will be made around Dec. 6.

The ministry explained yesterday that the minister of education was given the authority to order revisions to the publishers if they refuse to follow revision recommendations without proper grounds. The ministry said it will take administrative action to suspend the publication of the textbooks if the publishers refuse to accept its orders.

The textbooks that will pass the final stage of the screening will be made public through an Internet site. Schools will be provided with samples around Dec. 18 for selections on Dec. 27, the ministry said, adding that the schedule to supply the textbooks to students by the end of February next year won’t be disturbed.

The reactions of the authors of the textbooks were split.


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