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Correct Textbooks

Posted August. 15, 2004 22:03,   


The number of cases is greatly increasing where civic groups and government agencies ask the Education & Human Resources Development Ministry (EHRDM) for correction to reflect their position when revising textbooks of elementary school, middle school and high school regularly.

Even though these requests are for teaching correct knowledge to juveniles who are in a period of establishing their values, because there are one-sided and unverified claims among them, it is pointed out that they should be deliberated enough to print universal and valid contents in the textbooks.

-Request for Revising Textbooks

The Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) proposed 62 revisions in textbooks last October, saying, “It is absolutely lacking of contents such as basic principles of a market economy and the entrepreneur spirit in the current middle school and high school textbooks, and there are parts that could be misunderstood.”

The EHRDM revised 42 of the 62 proposed changes after consulting textbook writers early this year.

Economy education team leader Son Young-ki of the KCCI said, “As we need to educate students accurately about corporations, we will submit a recommendation to the EHRDM in order to include more corporation information when revising textbooks from now on.”

The Korea Labor Education Institute (KLEI) proposed 37 revisions in the current textbooks, such as the expression, “capitalists are enriching themselves with laborers’ blood and sweat,” and was answered by the EHRDM this June saying that they would make 25 revisions.

An official in the KLEI pointed out, “Although this textbook section deals with problems in times of the Industrial Revolution, overly sensational expressions could have a negative influence on understanding labor-management relations.”

-Government Agencies, “Reflect our Positions”

The Construction and Transportation Ministry asked the EHRDM in March to record contents related to national land development in the textbooks with accurate time and dates.

It states that the situation of national land development is not reflected accurately; for example, Shihwaho is introduced as “under development” while its tide embankment project was completed, and Pangyo’s new city construction is expressed to be in a planning stage.

The Health and Welfare Ministry also asked that national pension-related contents recorded only in high school textbooks need to be put in elementary and middle school textbooks as well, as various social insurance programs need to be dealt with further.

The Financial Supervisory Service asked to put in “credit education” in the textbooks beginning in 2001 in relation to cases of credit delinquents, which has recently became a social issue. Thus, it has been decided to put in the middle school and high school textbooks beginning next year, titled “credit delinquency” and “desirable financial life.”

Education research official Roh Hee-bang of the EHRDM said, “Every agency continues to inquire or request whether important pending policies can be put in the textbooks.”

-“Hard to Correct when Learned Incorrectly”

The reasons why groups and government agencies are actively participating in textbook revisions are that it is hard to correct later once students have learned material incorrectly and that textbooks are effective means for advertising social issues or policies without cost.

The EHRDM expresses difficulty in recording one-sided claims or biased views, as textbooks should present universal and valid contents even with the ministry’s will to accept fair requests for revisions.

An official in the EHRDM said, “There are many cases calling some expressions into question without looking at their context, or quarreling about quotations, not opinions of writers.”

Pedagogic professor Heo Hyung at Chung-ang University said, “It is time to consider a way that refined contents are put into textbooks after deliberation and examination of experts in related fields before writing them, as the society is becoming various.”

Seong-Chul Hong sungchul@donga.com