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Education Ministry to audit institution overseeing Suneung to make it ‘fair’

Yoon's remark on making Suneung easier didn't confuse students, according to ministry

By Park Jun-hee

Published : June 16, 2023 - 17:13

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South Korea’s Vice Education Minister Jang Sang-yoon (Ministry of Education) South Korea’s Vice Education Minister Jang Sang-yoon (Ministry of Education)

South Korea’s Vice Education Minister Jang Sang-yoon said Friday that the Education Ministry would audit the institution overseeing Suneung, the nation’s scholastic aptitude test, to assess the exam's fairness.

Jang said the ministry would team up with the Office for Government Policy Coordination regarding when and whom it would audit, as the Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation is a government body operating under the OPC, not the Education Ministry. The ministry declined to comment further on how it plans to inspect the organization and which measures it would take.

The decision comes a day after President Yoon Suk Yeol on Thursday instructed Education Minister Lee Ju-ho to exclude education content not taught in the public education sector, citing that the current Suneung questions are based on knowledge and information that require a private education.

Following Yoon’s remarks, the ministry replaced a high-ranking official in charge of Suneung.

“The Education Minister made the decision (to replace the chief of the institution) independently. It has nothing to do with the presidential office,” Jang told reporters during an online briefing dismissing rumors that Yoon made the choice.

“(The ministry) has aimed to make a ‘fair Suneung’ since March, and the first test-bed was the June mock exam. But the ‘fairness’ was not fully assessed,” he added.

Also, Jang explained that Yoon’s remarks on “making Suneung easier” were aimed at making the test a “fair one” since the test scores mainly depend on how much private education a student has received rather than how hard a student has studied during class.

The vice minister said that the ministry would take Yoon’s remarks “very seriously” and that the ministry feels a “great sense of responsibility.” He would take this opportunity to end "the vicious cycle" of students having to resort to private education at a hagwon to receive higher test scores.

While Yoon’s remarks have sparked controversy among students as Suneung is slated for November this year, the ministry said it doesn’t think it has “confused students” and would not issue a separate apology.