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National education committee yet to set sail

Sept. 13, 2022 - 16:11 By Im Eun-byel

Education Vice Minister Jang Sang-yoon speaks at a meeting held at the governmental complex in Seoul, Tuesday. (Yonhap)

The launch of a national education committee is being stalled as related bodies dispute the right to recommend members.

The committee, tasked with deliberating on long-term education policy, was initially scheduled to be launched in July.

While the committee is to have 21 members, the National Assembly, entitled to recommend nine of the committee members, has so far selected only two nominees. The president has the right to name five.

Education-related bodies can also recommend a total of two members for the committee. The related enforcement decree states if there are more than two education-related bodies, the groups should reach the recommendation through discussion.

Based on the decree, 14 related bodies decided that three groups -- Korea Federation of Teachers' Association, Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union and Korea Federation of Teachers Union -- should recommend a total of two members.

The three groups, however, were not able to agree on the terms, and the Education Ministry said it will receive the recommendations from the groups with the greatest membership.

While the Korea Federation of Teachers' Association has allocated its spot for the recommendation, the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union and Korea Federation of Teachers Union have been locked in a dispute over the right to recommend.

The Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union has applied for an injunction that calls for the court to order the suspension of the Korea Federation of Teachers Union’s recommendation, claiming the latter group has more members due to an overlap, and therefore it is not just for the group to have the right to recommend a member.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly Research Service has advised the committee to receive recommendations from the public.

The national education committee should secure independence and neutrality, receiving open recommendation of its members in a process that involves the public, the research service said through its report released Monday.

Additionally, the 2023 governmental budget plan showed the education committee will have a budget of 8.8 billion won ($6.4 million), which is significantly less than that of other similar institutions. The Korea Communications Commission will have a budget of 49.3 billion won and the National Human Rights Commission will be granted a budget of 40.6 billion won for next year.

By Im Eun-byel (