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Gov’t Officials Support Schools With Public Funds

Posted May. 23, 2008 03:48,   


A controversy is growing after officials at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology were found to have supported their alma maters with the government budget when they visited the schools to collect opinions from the field.

According to the Education Ministry, 27 high-ranking ministry officials, including the vice minister, have decided to visit schools to listen directly from teachers and parents to mark Teachers’ Day. Among them, six officials recently visited the schools they attended or the ones in their hometowns.

Education Minister Kim Do-yeon encouraged the visits, saying, “As two different ministries were merged, we need to listen directly from schools in order to make the right policy decisions.”

However, what became problematic is that the officials provided the schools they visited with certificates signed by the minister that the ministry grants 5 million won in book and school supplies expenses.

The ministry financed the 30-million-won support from the special fund of 1.1 trillion won set aside for special financial needs, such as social projects, pressing local issues, natural disasters or income declines at schools.

Against this backdrop, there are mounting criticisms that granting special allowances to the schools related to high-ranking officials is unfair, although visits themselves were well-intended.

In response, the ministry explained, “The budget from the special fund is processed in a transparent manner through each school’s accounting system. Normally, the prime minister, ministers or vice ministers support 5-10 million won when visiting schools. And, this time, officials went there on behalf of the minister.”

The ministry decided to deliver the support for the certificates already given out to schools. But it will not give any special financial support for visits made by its officials in the future.