After the annual college entrance exam was administered nationwide Thursday, many students expressed frustration over the Education, Science and Technology Ministrys promise to base 70 percent of the test questions on TV lectures aired on Educational Broadcasting System, or EBS. In April, then Education Minister Ahn Byong-man made the pledge and as soon as he did, the EBS Internet homepage was inundated with hits. Students set to take the university entrance exam this year snapped up EBS materials to study.
Many students said, however, that the types of problems in this year`s test were different from those in EBS materials. Preliminary scoring results show about a 10-point decline in the average score. Ahn Tae-in, who headed a state committee for the test, said certain problems were made difficult to increase their discriminatory power. If so, the government should never have made the promise in the first place. It misled students with the false belief that the majority of the questions would be based on EBS lectures, ultimately raising the broadcasters sales of textbook materials.
It is a fallacy for the government to set as its education policy goal the removal of private education. The intent was to rid the country of private education but the essential goals of public education were not met. As a result, the government instead promoted EBS and announced a plan to link the exam to EBS lectures.
Due to this misplaced priority, schools lost more of their authority while private institutes grew more popular. Certain schools even had students memorize EBS textbooks, making EBS the core of public education. Institutes opened supplementary lectures that reviewed more than 110 EBS materials.
Because many of the more difficult problems in this year`s test were not from EBS materials, private cram schools grew more popular. Even the head of the state committee for the test said he acknowledges that this year`s exam was difficult, creating higher demand for private education.
In 2004, the Roh Moo-hyun administration failed to expand the role of EBS lectures to reduce dependence on private tutoring. The incumbent Lee Myung-bak administration has repeated the same mistake. The basics of public education should be to raise the quality of schools and teachers so that they can teach basic concepts and principles better. The college entrance exam should return to its original goal of 1994 based on the principle that questions be formulated in a way to prevent a high score by cramming. If not, a repeat of this year`s chaos will come.