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Teachers’ Conflicts on NEIS Reignited?

Posted September. 25, 2004 21:42,   


The Korean Federation of Teacher’s Association (KFTA) and other teachers’ groups resisted the agreement on the National Education Information System (NEIS) between the Ministry of Education and Human Resources and the Korean Teachers and Educational Worker’s Union (KTEWU), saying it is not valid. As a result, it became highly possible that the teachers’ conflicts surrounding the NEIS would return to its starting point.

The KFTA announced that its staffs and 300 teachers would gather to censure the new system on September 30 following the Chuseok holiday at the rear of the Capitol building in Seoul and would continue its activities in a systematic manner to denounce the system.

Problems in Both Procedures and the Content—

The KFTA pointed out, “The NEIS issue was discussed only with the KTEWU, but since it influences all teachers, the process already got a flaw, not to mention that there are problems in the content of their agreement.”

The Education Ministry and the KTEWU agreed to launch the new system that separates school administration, health care, and admission affairs from the NEIS, one by one, beginning July of next year with plans to complete the change by next September.

The KFTA argued, “Transferring records and changing the existing system in the middle of a school session will cause trouble in normal operations of school affairs.” They say that the new system is not only totally different from the existing NEIS system but also incomplete; therefore such a change will easily lead to confusions in school record management.

The KFTA is worried that launching the new system in all schools simultaneously without testing in a limited number of schools first is dangerous. In the event that the new system has flaws and problems from instability, it would cost a lot of money and effort to fix.

Responding to this criticism, an Education Ministry spokesperson said, “Since the new system is planned to have a yearlong test operation period starting next March and is to be launched one by one from next July, there will be no problem.”

The Background of the Resistance—

The KFTA says that the ministry and the KTEWU made their agreement on September 20, but delayed to announce it until September 23, right before the Chuseok holiday, and that this shows that the ministry had some political motivation to make the KTEWU stand out and to leave the KFTA left out.

The KFTA, the biggest teachers’ organization in the country, has so far, unlike the KTEWU, not had a noticeable voice regarding various education issues and therefore has lost its leading power to the KTEWU.

The KFTA is seen to make such a strong voice in their announcement out of the sense of crisis that it should not tolerate being excluded any more, as they feel pushed out by the KTEWU.

Han Jae-gap, spokesman of the KFTA, said, “If the ministry does not accommodate our requests, we will fight by holding teachers’ rallies and refusing to use the new system. We will also not cooperate in any other education policies in the future.”

Seong-Chul Hong sungchul@donga.com