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Why Is This Man Leading Education Reform?

Posted April. 29, 2009 16:53,   


The floor leader of the ruling Grand National Party, Hong Joon-pyo, said yesterday, “A man who advises the president shouldn’t appear on media and express his opinions.”

Hong’s counterpart at the main opposition Democratic Party, Won Hye-young, said, “This man has announced a series of educational policies as if he were the chief officer in charge of educational policy. He misunderstands that he is the vice president for education.”

The person targeted for criticism by the two floor leaders is Kwak Seung-jun, chairman of the Presidential Commission for Future State Planning. The two floor leaders criticized Kwak for saying he wants to pursue educational reform and formulate measures to cut private educational costs in media interviews.

Kwak has also faced criticism from the government, including the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae. A government source said, “Let alone the details of educational reform, Kwak has problems in how he delivers his opinions."

"After Kwak’s report on educational reform, President Lee Myung-bak asked the Grand National Party to discuss the issue with Kwak and make an announcement. Unexpectedly, however, Kwak had interviews with the media.”

A Cheong Wa Dae officer said, “This is the job of the education minister, not Kwak. The people’s harsh criticism over the government’s inconsistent administration has just weakened, but we are puzzled since Kwak’s unexpected behavior has reignited criticism.”

Certain Cheong Wa Dae officers have said they are confused over whether Kwak is following President Lee`s orders or is making his own judgements on educational reform.

Why has Kwak been so vocal on educational reform despite the harsh criticism? In an interview with The Dong-A Ilbo, ruling party lawmaker and Kwak supporter Chung Doo-un said, “The Education Ministry takes too long to pursue educational reform. Other organizations including the commission need to lead educational reform with a firm resolution.”

Other sources said the government will ban cram schools from providing lessons after 10 p.m. since the Education Ministry opposes the idea of outlawing such lessons after 9 p.m.

The ministry is also against other government suggestions on educational reform. Vice Education Minister Lee Ju-ho and Vice Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Shin Jae-min have also participated in educational reform.

The two vice ministers are known to keenly understand President Lee’s thoughts, meaning both agreed that the Lee administration cannot succeed without educational reform.