REFORM WITHOUT SOCIAL REFORM
Society of Korean American Scholars
It has been 54 years since the founding of the Republic
of Korea in 1948. The nation made giant strides
in economy and political structures. When it comes
to education, however, it is ending up with a collapse,
after 54 years. Why?
During the past 54 years, Korea has evolved through
some eight administrations, at least 3 of them being
military dictatorships. During the current administration,
we have had 7 education cabinet ministers in the
last 5 years. Assuming the average half-life of an
education minister to be less than a year, we must have
had some 50 education ministers, each of them displaying
abrupt changes in policies in their own
incompetent and at times sheer moronic thinking.
The underlying zeal of the Korean parents to educate
their young is simple and direct: they will do
whatever it takes for their young to succeed in society.
By observing how others have succeeded, they
can figure out what it takes to succeed in Korea. And
the answer is not pretty. In order to succeed and
get ahead in Korea, one needs the following: diploma from
a prestigious university (It matters none
whether students are truly educated of not, as long as they
obtain the diploma), network of connections
established during the university years, network of connections
based on regionalism, factionalism,
cronyism and nepotism, good aptitude for corruption, and 'certified'
incompetence (If one is perceived
as too competent, all those incompetents surrounding that person
will see to it the person will not
If you meet all these requirements, then you succeed.
So, no matter how you tweak and adjust the
education policies, it will all fail at the end. Society
must change before education can change. Failure
of the education system is simply a reflection of the failure
of the social structure in Korea.
Korea can only reform education when she can reform
and redefine success and how to attain it.