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[Editorial] The Education Ministry Must Open Its Eyes

Posted May. 03, 2005 23:29,   


The educational front is once again going through turmoil with the introduction of a new system for college entrance exams. The new system for 2008 puts weight on school records, and has swept the current first graders in high school into a world of limitless competition where friends are enemies in a “war for better school records.” We must think about why such trial-and-error is repeated every time the policy on college entrance exams changes.

The exam system has shifted its focus from independent tests of universities to the College Scholastic Aptitude Test (CSAT), and then to school records. The government repealed the independent tests of universities, viewing them as the main culprit behind the increase in private tutoring, and introduced the CSAT. Now, after blaming the CSAT for triggering more tutoring, it has changed the system to emphasize school records.

Have the various changes to the system resolved the issue of overheated competition and high private education expenses? After the introduction of the CSAT, the competition to enter good colleges got fiercer. Under the new system, students have to get high marks in all subjects, and this is actually increasing the demand for private education. The solution added to the burden instead of lessening it. This once again proves that it is unrealistic to hope that changing the system will make educational issues disappear.

No nation changes its college admission system as often as Korea. The educational authorities decided the new system will be “based on school records,” and changed the CSAT so that the results would be announced in groups, cutting the tests’ ability to differentiate students.

The government is maintaining its stance that independent testing by universities is out of the question. It is no exaggeration to say that the government is restricting the universities’ right to select its students.

The government brought on the recent turmoil, but it is deplorable that the government does not seem to even realize this fact. The educational authorities must realize that problems arose because the government restricted the admissions system. Admissions should be left to the discretion of each university.

Other nations respect their universities’ right to pick their own students because they know this is the best way to find and nurture talented minds. It would be desirable to allow universities to put various standards in place for selecting students with special talents or the marginalized.

But going against the global trend, the government is increasing its intervention efforts, bringing about side effects and deteriorating our educational competitiveness. Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Kim Jin-pyo set a goal of fostering 15 global universities after taking office. Are he and the government truly looking at the world with open eyes?