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[Editorial] Difference or prejudice

July 13, 2011 - 19:00 By 최남현
The bills that are not moving along in the process of legislation number 6312. As the leader of the ruling Grand National Party says, it is shameful for each standing committee of the National Assembly to sit on hundreds of bills.

The ruling party has decided to speed up the legislation process when the National Assembly opens an extraordinary session next month. That is a welcome decision. Among those given priority are the motion for the ratification of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and a bill on improving the operation of the legislature. The sooner those bills are passed, the better.

Another bill that the ruling party regards as deserving special mention is one banning discrimination in employment, pay, license acquisition and job training against those with fewer years of formal education. Its floor leader says that when it comes to recruitment both in the corporate and public sectors, competence should be put before years of school education, adding that he will push for the bill’s early enactment.

It is a noble cause to keep people from being discriminated against because of education as well as gender, physical disability, age, race and religion. People with good job skills must not be discriminated against just because they have had fewer years of school education. In this regard, the legislature is called on to enact the bill as soon as possible.

But one caveat is that the bill should not push things so far that it is hard to distinguish a legitimate selection from prejudice and discrimination. One case in point is the number of years of education that is required to train medical students as medical doctors. It goes without saying that those who have failed to finish the course cannot be allowed to qualify as a medical doctor.

Under the bill, it would constitute an act of discrimination if the levels of school education are used for no “reasonable reason” as guidelines for employment and other purposes. But it would not be easy for committee members to determine what is reasonable.

Another caveat is that the bill must not hamper corporations in recruiting people with the qualifications they need. A ban on discrimination and the desire to employ people with higher and better education are not mutually exclusive.