Korea: Newly Elected Education Chief to Adopt Elitist Policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Thu Jul 31 13:53:47 UTC 2008

Newly Elected Education Chief to Adopt Elitist Policy

Kong Jeong-taek
By Kang Shin-whoStaff Reporter
Kong Jeong-taek, 74, the current ― appointed ― superintendent of SeoulMetropolitan Office of Education was elected Thursday in the firstcity-wide election for the post that gives him a mandate to controlthe city's education policy until June 2010. Only 15.4 percent out ofsome 8.08 million eligible citizens cast their ballots.
With Kong keeping his post, the current education policy that is oftenaccused of being elitist will be pushed ahead with. Regarded as beingright of center in political ideology, he has been trying to introducemore competition in middle and high schools with priority being placedon having middle school students choose high schools, and introducingentrance exams. The current system is geared toward an egalitarianphilosophy and has middle school seniors advance to neighborhoodschools without exams with the exceptions of special purposeeducational establishments such as foreign-language and internationalschools.
Kong's election is expected to help increase the number of eliteschools. Another likely change under Kong as the city's top educationpolicy maker is to bring in more native English-speaking teachers.
The 74-year-old career educator graduated from Seoul NationalUniversity with a bachelors degree in economics in 1957 and earned hismasters in education administration at Korea University in 1976. Hereceived an honorary doctorate of literature from Carson-NewmanCollege in 1999.
Kong served as headmaster of Duksoo Commercial High School andpresident of Nam Seoul University between 1998 and 2002. In 2004, Kongwas appointed as the city's top educator.
It was the first election by Seoul residents but the 15.4 percentvoting rate, the second lowest after Busan's 15.35 percent, wasconsidered disappointing. South Chuncheong and South Jeolla provincesalso recorded lows at 17.2 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Thepoor voter turnout raises questions on the efficiency of electing thetop educator for cities and provinces.
kswho at koreatimes.co.kr
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