Text books won't be swayed by politics
Education ministry seeks to set objective guideline
By Yun Suh-young
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has decided to set a guideline to evaluate the political neutrality of works to be published in textbooks of all grades.
The ministry said Sunday it will begin a study to create the standard of “political neutrality in education.”
The research comes amid a recent controversy on poet-turned-lawmaker Do Jong-hwan’s poems being published in middle school textbooks.
The Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) asked the National Election Commission (NEC) last month whether publishing a certain lawmaker’s works in textbooks violated the Election Law. It had initially suggested the removal of the legislatorworks from eight textbooks because the books should be politically neutral.
The Korea Writers’ Association, however, had fiercely protested the move, saying it was a witch-hunt against Do and questioned the motive behind the inquiry. It added that the poems were clearly literary works written when Do was not in politics.
The NEC concluded that publishing Do’s poems in textbooks did not violate the election law and that they can remain in the textbooks.
The ministry said it has decided to set guidelines after a consensus was reached on the issue.
“We will create an objective standard after gathering different opinions,” a ministry official said.
The education ministry plans to select a research organization in a few weeks to conduct a study on politically neutral standards.
The study will include how to apply the standard of neutrality when selecting literary works of a certain individual or certain content. Researchers are expected to discuss how to deal with works written by politicians, while looking at foreign cases.
The research team will also discuss whether to exclude the works of a living individual in the textbooks or whether to include them considering the timeliness of the works amid the recent controversies.
The final decision, however, is not expected to be made before the December presidential election as the issue needs to go through a public hearing to gather a social consensus.
Meanwhile, the KICE director who initially suggested the removal of Do’s poems was replaced by another person.