06/16/2006, 00.00
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Christian groups claim right to manage their own schools

Under the new law, which comes into effect on July 1, one quarter of boards of directors must be named by outside groups.

Seoul (AsiaNews/CI) – South Korea's main Christian groups yesterday demanded they be given the right to choose their students and students be given the right to attend schools of their own choosing. This comes as the revised School Law comes into effect. The demand is designed to get the government to change its policies and influence public opinion on the issue of private schools. Among the nation's private schools, more than 24 per cent are run by religious communities.

Four religious groups, including the Christian Council of Korea, one of the nation's main protestant groups, and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, held a joint media conference last Monday during which they released a statement that they sets off a protest campaign against the revised law. As part of this, they urged the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality and coherence of the revision.

The school bill, which was championed by the Uri Party and bitterly opposed by the Grand Nationals, was passed by the legislature last December. The bill, which forces private schools to appoint a quarter of their boards of directors from outside the schools' administration groups, was presented as a reform measure to curb management abuse and corruption.

But according to Choi Hee-beok, a director of the Christian Council of Korea, "private schools can no longer accept students by random lots."

Jang Un-seok, the chaplain of Paichai High School, said it was the first time that religious communities have officially demanded their right to select students. "While the revision was underway, we delivered our position to the government unofficially, but the Education Ministry showed concern that it would break up the framework of equalising schools and ignored our views."

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