Source : Joongang Daily
May 22, 2008
Kim Doh-yeon, the minister of education, science and technology, confessed yesterday that two senior ministry officials promised to offer special government subsidies to their children’s schools. Last week the ministry was pounded by public criticism as it was reported that several ministry officials had visited their alma maters and promised the schools 5 million won ($4,760) each.
President Lee Myung-bak had also condemned the ministry on Friday, saying it was acting against the new administration’s reform policies.
“A total of seven senior officials of the ministry visited schools and promised to offer special subsidies. Two of them were confirmed to have visited their children’s schools,” said Kim. “We will take punitive action against some of these officials.”
According to the ministry, Kim is considering reprimanding three or four of the officials including the two who visited their children’s schools.
But Kim’s confession only seemed to bring more criticism. Critics claim that since the school visits were encouraged by the ministry, Kim and the ministry had to take responsibility for the controversy.
“Please visit your schools or your child’s schools around Teacher’s Day [May 15]. This time, special subsidies will go along with you,” said a ministry official to senior colleagues at a May 6 meeting, according to sources at the ministry.
“We made the guideline to encourage more officials to visit a school,” said Park Baek-bum, the ministry’s spokesman.
“No questions were raised about giving out special subsidies to schools the senior officials visit,” said a senior official at the ministry who refused to be named. “Thinking about it now, it was a very bad idea. But we didn’t think of it that way at the time.”
Up until recently, it has been customary for the education minister or vice minister to offer special subsidies to schools they visit.
“I made a speech on the import of U.S. beef to third-grade students for three hours after school,” said Park Yoong-soo, chief secretary of the ministry who visited his son’s middle school. “I never asked my son’s teachers for any favors.”
Park Choon-ran, a ministry official in charge of supporting academic research, visited her daughter’s high school.
“Because her alma mater is outside Seoul, she came to her daughter’s school,” said the principal of the school. “I gave her back the certificate promising the special ministry subsidies.”
Link : http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2890330