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Private School Bill Controversy Continues

Posted December. 21, 2005 03:00,   


Amid continuous opposition from religious groups to the revised private school law, conflict surrounding the bill is continuing as some progressive religious groups have declared their support of the bill.

The Korea Federation of Christian Schools held an emergency board of directors meeting at President Hotel in Jung-gu, Seoul, yesterday morning, and decided to reject accepting new students next year. A total of 349 schools, including 123 middle schools and 165 high schools, belong to this association.

“We solemnly declare that we are poised to suffer any hardship on the basis of the spirit of martyrdom in a bid to protect religion and the liberty of religious education that the Constitution guarantees,” the federation said in a statement.

The Korean Association of Private Middle and High School Principals held a board of directors meeting attended by about 40 principals at the same place on the same day and decided to follow the determination drawn up by the Korean Association of Private Middle and High School Foundations, such as refusing to recruit new students for 2006.

On the other hand, a total of 11 religious groups (from Christianity, Buddhism, Won Buddhism, and Roman Catholicism), including the Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice and the National Practical Buddhism Association, held a press conference at Cecil Restaurant in Jeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, on the morning of that day, and announced their support of the bill.

“We cannot understand some religious private foundations’ stance that reducing the number of directors from relatives of a private school’ owner, accepting a single open director, and making public boards of directors, budget settlements, and recruiting of new teachers mar the freedom of religion and the ideal envisioned in the founding of private schools founded by religious groups,” they said.

“Withdraw the remarks in which some private schools said that they would close down their schools and stop accepting new students next year, both of which are closely related to students’ right of education,” they urged.

The Good Teachers, a civic group consists of Christian teacher groups, insisted on the same day that the Christian private school foundations accept the bill, saying, “Although we cannot say that there is no possibility of the spirit of school foundation being undermined due to the introduction of open directors system, we should protect the spirit of school foundation through desirable school management based on the spirit of Christianity.”

Seong-Chul Hong sungchul@donga.com