Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea said Friday that there is enough time to author a single history textbook for secondary school students apparently to dispel public concerns over the lack of preparation.
The Ministry of Education announced on Monday that history textbooks for middle and high school students nationwide will be written by the government-designated authors and in use by the 2017 academic year.
Following the announcement, some raised concerns that there is only one year left, saying that it usually takes years of preparation for a history textbook to be completed.
"It takes less time for a state-authored textbook. There were seven writers but now the government will put in some 30 writers," Hwang said during the National Assembly interpellation session.
Currently, secondary school history textbooks are published by eight private publishing companies after being approved by an independent textbook review committee of experts. Schools choose from any of them, while primary schools have a single set of state-authored history textbooks.
Under the new system, historians and scholars with expertise in different periods and fields of history will participate under the supervision of the National Institute of Korean History.
Earlier in the day, representatives of some 20 student councils across the country staged a series of press conferences in Seoul to oppose the state-authored history textbooks.
The student councils of Seoul National University, Yonsei University and Korea University released a statement criticizing the government's decision, saying it is "a challenge to democracy, a fundamental spirit of the South Korean constitution."
A group of students majoring in education also held a press conference with similar calls.
Meanwhile, a group of retired head principals of Seoul's middle and high schools held a rally in central Seoul in support of the government decision.
"The policy of state-designated textbooks is the solution so that the future generation has the correct view of history and the nation," said the group.
The former teachers also said that the most important aspect of history education is that students can have pride in our country.
"It is my wish and conviction that both parties and the people get together, and that best writers come up with the best book," Hwang said. (Yonhap)