The Education Ministry is seeking a legal amendment to ban sex offenders from working at universities and colleges amid a public furor over a local university’s decision to retain a sex offender in their faculty.
A high-ranking ministry official said Sunday the government will push to revise the law protecting minors to ban those convicted of sex crimes from being hired at universities or colleges.
The current law, revised in 2009, prevents the offenders from working at educational facilities such as schools, kindergartens and private institutes for 10 years after they have completed their legal punishment.
“The employment (of sex offenders) needed to be restricted at colleges, because minors also sometimes take college courses through special programs,” said the Education Ministry official.
The Education Ministry added that it had sent official notices to universities, urging them to come up with ways to prevent sex crimes on campus. The possible measures include removing sex offenders from the departments, providing therapy for victims and enhancing education on ways to prevent sexual abuse.
Earlier in the month, Kongju National University stirred up controversy after it allowed sex offenders to continue teaching at the school. Two professors at the university, located in South Chungcheong Province, had been given four classes for upcoming semesters despite being convicted and fined by a local court in February for sexually harassing four female students.
Some of their classes covered subjects required for graduation, which forced victims to take classes taught by their attackers.
After a string of protests from students and heavy criticism from the public, the school removed the professors from their posts last week.
Feminist groups in the area, however, said the school’s action was merely temporary to avoid attacks from the public and demanded the government arrange measures to stop sex offenders from teaching at universities.
“The Education Ministry must conduct an audit on Kongju National University while arranging permanent measures to prevent the reoccurrence of such incidents,” the groups said in a joint press conference on Thursday.
The new plans by the ministry are part of the government’s policy to toughen punishment against those who commit sex crimes within education circles.
Last month, the ministry announced that it will strengthen punishment against mild forms of sexual harassment, which are only subject to reprimands under the current law. Under the revised law, however, the minimum punishment will consist of pay cuts.
The government also plans to strip teachers of their licenses if they are convicted of sex crimes.
Since taking office, the Park Geun-hye administration has been working to tackle what it calls the country’s “four social ills” ― sexual violence, school violence, domestic violence and substandard food.
By Yoon Min-sik (firstname.lastname@example.org)