Test-takers oppose subject changes in civil service exam
By Kim Bo-eun
A government plan to alter the subjects of the lowest level civil service exam in favor of high school graduates has ignited a strong backlash from around 150,000 test-takers across the nation.
The Ministry of Public Administration and Security announced last month that it intends to make the currently-compulsory college level subjects optional while adding high school subjects as electives.
Beginning in 2013, Korean, English and Korean history will be compulsory test subjects, while test-takers can select two more subjects either of university or high school level.
“The plan aims to expand the opportunities for high school graduates to enter the public service sector,” said a ministry official.
University level subjects include public administration, administrative law, criminal law, tax law and economics. The high school level subjects are science, social studies and math.
Following the announcement, test-takers reacted with much displeasure.
A heated debate has erupted on a message board on the e-People website, with some 1,500 opinions already posted.
“The time and money I spent for the past three years on studying will go to waste,” said one of the posts.
“We will have tax officers who don’t know accounting and prosecutors who have no idea about criminal law,” said another.
President Lee Myung-bak said last year that “the percentage of high school graduates in officialdom should be increased.”
However, some say the high unemployment rate of graduates from provincial colleges and universities is a serious problem that needs to be addressed prior to the issue of finding jobs for high school graduates.
In defense of the plan, supporters said recruitment for the lowest level civil servants was originally aimed for high school graduates.
“Young individuals who have the basic requirements can be promoted to higher positions as they learn from experience,” said another advocate.
“The current method may lead to unfavorable consequences such as hiring incompetent civil servants. Accordingly, it would be better to adopt a quota-system for high school graduates rather than changing the subjects” said an expert.