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Education minister nominee stresses equal opportunity

Education Minister nominee Kim Sang-gon on Monday stressed equal opportunities for students, signaling a liberal turn in the nation’s education policy.

“I will do my best to improve the welfare of children in the education sector, where no individual will be treated differently, in line with the Moon Jae-in administration’s philosophy of ‘one’s child is everyone’s child,’ Kim said in a press release Monday.

It was his first public message since being tapped as the nation’s education chief and deputy prime minister for social affairs.

Education Minister nominee Kim Sang-gon (Yonhap)
Education Minister nominee Kim Sang-gon (Yonhap)

Once hailed as a “reformer of education,” the 68-year-old progressive former school superintendent of Gyeonggi Province is expected to implement reform measures aimed at ensuring fair education opportunities for all, in particular changes related to Suneung, a standardized test much like the American SAT, and prestigious schools like foreign language high schools.

As a school superintendent from 2009 to 2014, Kim pushed forward educational reform policies including a free school meals policy.

The policy, carried out in schools across the country, has been criticized by politicians for benefiting students from well-to-do families. They argued that resources could have been used instead to help more low-income students.

At his upcoming parliamentary confirmation hearing, Kim is also expected to be questioned extensively on an allegation that he plagiarized his doctoral dissertation published in 1992, which the presidential office claimed had already been “examined closely with a high standard.”

Kim was among five new ministers named Sunday by President Moon Jae-in, along with Ahn Kyong-whan for justice minister and Song Young-moo for defense minister.

During the election period, the five served as chief pledge advisers for Moon in areas including education, defense and labor.

By Bak Se-hwan (
Korea Herald Youtube