President Moon Jae-in stressed the need Friday to overhaul South Korea's education system, especially in relation to the controversial admission policies of local universities, reaffirming his commitment to addressing one of the toughest social issues here.
Promoting fairness has emerged as a key task for the latter half of Moon's five-year presidency.
Fierce public criticism of his pick of Cho Kuk as justice minister has served as a catalyst for this.
Cho's family has faced intense prosecution probes into apparent perks and alleged irregularities, including over his daughter's schooling, prompting a series of massive streets protests against Cho in Seoul.
Supporters of Moon staged separate candlelight vigils demanding prosecution reform.
Moon said the Cho case has demonstrated the South Korean people's desire for a higher level of fairness and reform.
"Our education is now facing a crisis of trust," Moon said as he presided over an education policy meeting with related ministers at the government office complex in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul.
He pointed out the social mobility problem, citing a growing sense of "loss" among ordinary people over the reality that education has become a means to inherit socio-economic status and privilege.
Promoting fairness in the college entrance exam system is an urgent task, Moon said. "It's really a difficult issue," he added.
In a bid to increase transparency and fairness, the president said, what is needed first is a drastic improvement of the current system to assess applicants' academic performance and alternative admission criteria based on things like extra-curricular activities and volunteer work.
Pointing out the people's distrust in the system, Moon said it's not desirable to expand the irregular selection of successful applicants on the basis of comprehensive evaluation.
Moon urged education authorities to listen to the people's opinion that regular selection based on the results of the annual College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) is fairer. (Yonhap)