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[Editorial] Can the KTU Sway Korea’s Political Parties?

[Editorial] Can the KTU Sway Korea’s Political Parties?

Posted April. 23, 2007 04:33,   


The Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union’s (KTU) protest rally held in front of the National Assembly yesterday, dubbed a “Resolution Rally,” was nothing but a gathering intended to pressure legislators to stand up against the introduction of a teachers’ competence evaluation system.

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development presented a revised Elementary and Secondary Education Act bill last December, which included the introduction of this system next year. The KTU has opposed this initiative and made a continuous effort to stop its progress.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and several civic groups participated in yesterday’s rally, and this event was the last outcome of its month-long all-out effort to lobby political parties. The KTU has visited district offices of legislators who belong to the education committee of National Assembly and disrupted their work. The union also extended its hand to the Korean Federation of Teacher’s Associations and asked for cooperation to block the bill.

The KTU’s “all-out war” seems to be grounded in the belief that a successful blockage of the bill will preclude the implementation of an evaluation system slated for next year. Even though it is not impossible to see the bill passing during the regular assembly session in June, they seem to think that their demands are likely to be accepted because bill processing will be slowed due to the upcoming presidential election.

In fact, such a scheme is quite plausible given the current unsettled state of the National Assembly. Typically, the procedure of passing bills starts from the examination of a subcommittee on bill examination, and a bill is consequently worked on by the Education Committee and in a general meeting of the National Assembly. However, the bill has not gone through the first step yet. Even worse, the chairperson’s seat on the subcommittee on bill examination is vacant right now. It is very disappointing that lawmakers are now being easily influenced by lobbying efforts by the KTU.

Political parties must answer the question: Would you kneel down to KTU pressure and serve only its interests, or would you work to improve the competitive power of educational sectors by institutionalizing a teacher’s competence evaluation system? The introduction of this system is very necessary not only because the 80 percent of people have voted for the system, but also because it is a useful tool to enhance teachers’ capabilities and improve public educational quality by setting environments in which teachers are engaged in constructive competition and giving more opportunities for self-development. Only when such conditions settle can we expect development in public education and the production of proficient human resources in a global community.

The number of KTU members is a mere 80,000, but, the nationwide number of parents of students is 16 million. We believe that politicians won’t turn away the needs of public due to the power and obstinacy of one interest group like the KTU. People should pay attention to which political parties make what kinds of decisions during the assembly session this month.