Elitism in the Midst of Egalitarianism
Elitism in the Midst of Egalitarianism
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2005.09.01 00:00
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   A couple of recent events concerning education policies have brought to mind the mentality of the average Korean and the government's "consolidation policies." The core of this mentality is revealed in the Roh administration's new college entrance system. This system, implemented from 2008, evaluates high school students based more on grades in the three years of high school and less on nationwide standardized tests. The purpose of this is to reduce a growing education gap, putting a stop to wealthy students "buying" their way into the best colleges through costly tutors and other methods, while children of non-affluent families are kept on the social margins. The hope is to give high school students "more normal" high school lives.
   But the question is, does this "egalitarian policy" actually free high school students from the burdens of a society built on the need to graduate from an "elite" university? Does it really guarantee students the freedom to lead high school lives more focused on developing personal talents and interests? Regardless of how evenly the burden of university entrance is placed over three years, as long as Koreans stick to the elitist mindset, the bottom line for university entrants will be to "make it into a top university." Increasing the burden to a length of three years will actually make studying a daily routine for students and print elitism more clearly on their minds.
   Obviously, the Ministry of Education & Human Resources Development thinks that this is presently the best way of eliminating elitism. But the truth is that as long as their policy only shifts the burden of elitism and does not totally remove it, it only presents an illusion of progress and does not really address the real issue at hand.
   Instead of shifting high school students' burdens more evenly over three years, it would be more effective to start modifications in the mindsets of Koreans. The government could change employee recruitment laws so that institutions must place more importance on individual talent than school name. They could give more financial and legal support (more effectively than before) to newly established firms in various new sectors, and attract foreign human resources to help change atmospheres so that emphasis is on productivity and effective business solutions, not prestige.
   The recent row between the government and Seoul National University (SNU) accentuated the Ministry's goal to shift power away from elitist connections by limiting SNU's admission methods to those used by other universities. Yet one would wonder if this would be the answer to eliminating elitism. Why not go to the core and seek societal change from the inside out, instead of nicking away at the corners?

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