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President Moon abolishes state-authored history textbooks

President Moon abolishes state-authored history textbooks

Posted June. 01, 2017 07:16,   

Updated June. 01, 2017 07:28


Just in three weeks since the inception of the new government led by President Moon Jae-in, the plan to introduce state-authored history textbooks has been finally scrapped. The state agency in charge of state-authored history textbooks has been dissolved accordingly. “For history textbooks to be used at middle schools and high schools, the government notification has been revised from giving options for a school to choose between state-authored history textbooks and privately published and authorized textbooks to allowing only private textbooks,” the Ministry of Education said Wednesday.

It can be said that the two-year-long controversy over the introduction of state-authored history textbooks is officially ended following the government’s new public announcement titled “notification on revision of criteria for middle school and high school textbooks.” It now gives new instructions to use only privately published and authorized history textbooks.

The Ministry of Education has also decided to postpone introduction of newly authorized private textbooks to after 2019. New textbooks have been originally planned to be introduced for first year students of middle school and high school from 2018 along with a kickoff of new school curricula. However, fabrication of history textbooks has been delayed due to continuous change of its application system from private textbooks to state-authored textbooks and to combination of both types of textbooks. Eval‎uation and authorization process for textbooks of other subjects is at the final phase, but not even a sample history textbook for eval‎uation has been completed.

In this context, the Ministry of Education plans to introduce newly authorized history textbooks in 2019 or 2020. Textbook publishers have been requested to submit their sample textbooks for authorization by August 3, but the schedule is expected to be postponed.

The agency in charge of state-authored history textbooks has been disbanded. The agency, aiming at normalization of history education, was established in November 2015 by prime minister’s order. The agency was officially dismantled after the prime minister’s order became ineffective as of May 31 and the plan for state-authored history textbooks was scrapped. Tasks given to the agency such as countermeasure to distortion of Northeast Asia history and assistance for development of history textbooks will be newly assigned to a school policy team of the Ministry of Education.

Deok-Young Yu firedy@donga.com