Seoul denies task force to probe history textbook row

Seoul, Oct 26 (IANS) South Korea’s education ministry on Monday refuted the opposition party’s accusation that it had set up a “secret” task force to push forward with a single history textbook for secondary students.

On Sunday, the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) argued that the ministry had set up the special task force to deal with controversies surrounding the government’s decision to author a single set of books in the 2017 school year to address what it calls predominantly left-leaning content in the current books, Yonhap News Agency reported.

“It is totally wrong to mention a secret organisation when the ministry of education has set up an organisation within the boundaries of the public budget,” said a ministry official, adding that it is a customary to temporarily set up such a team.

NPAD legislators, however, argued that it will demand a relevant parliamentary standing committee to look into suspicions surrounding the task force.

The party further claimed that some 20 officials were on the team to secretly monitor media, as well as civic groups, teachers and parents.

The ruling Saenuri Party, meanwhile, demanded the government to take stern and legal measures against the opposition lawmakers over the alleged illegal act.

The government published school history textbooks in 1974. It relinquished the power to private publishers in 2011 under a government monitoring system.

Currently, history textbooks are published by eight private publishing companies after being approved by an independent textbook review committee of experts. Schools choose from any of the eight textbooks, while primary schools have a single set of state-authored history textbooks.

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