A test is not the solutionPresident Moon Jae-in demanded an increase in the proportion of college admissions based on the college entrance exams in a cabinet meeting on Friday. He vowed an overhaul of the college education system in a parliamentary address earlier in the week following the resignation of Justice Minister Cho Kuk amidst a number of scandals including allegations that his children had unfair advantages in getting into top schools.
Moon became more specific in his command by naming certain schools he wants to increase their quota for admission through the college entrance exam while reducing the impact of grades, extracurricular activities and other factors.
He spoke of public disgruntlement over education and called for innovation in education and more fairness. Few would disagree that the Cho scandal exposed unevenness on our educational playing field. Many were appalled by the prerogatives Cho’s children enjoyed to spiff up their college applications. The children of Cho easily landed internship programs at prestigious schools and institutions, all thanks to their socially successful parents. Every parent was enraged to learn of the advantages children of the rich and famous could enjoy.
But whether the college entrance exam is the solution is another question. College admissions should take into consideration many factors.
Raising the number of kids who get into schools because of their test scores will not ensure fairness. Moon’s idea stirred protests from liberal education chiefs and teachers.
Although the quota for admissions for students based on the college entrance exam is set at 30 percent, the ratio of actual admissions goes above 40 percent due to under-subscriptions in the early admissions process. If the minimum quota for exam-based enrollment goes up to 40 percent, more than half of the admissions would be based on a one-time test.
This half-baked idea is motivated by a political purpose: to appease the public in the wake of the Cho crisis. Before adjusting the quota, authorities should think about improving the system that prompts students to seek out extra-curricular achievements. The government must redesign education system with the bigger picture of innovation of higher education in mind. That is the purpose of the institution of the presidential advisory commission on education.
JoongAng Sunday, Oct. 26, Page 30