South Korean to control writing of history textbooks

Seoul, Oct 12 (IANS) The South Korean government on Monday announced its plan to control the history textbooks used in secondary schools, the media reported.

Unveiling an administrative measure, the education ministry said history textbooks for middle and high school students nationwide will be authored by the government starting in the 2017 school year, Yonhap News Agency reported.

“It was an inevitable choice for the government to correct historical factual errors and to end social controversies derived from ideological bias,” Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea said.

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.

The ministry said the government-published textbooks will be named “Accurate History Textbooks”.

Some 20 to 40 historians with expertise in different periods and fields of history will participate in writing new books, according to the National Institute of Korean History which is in charge of the publication.

The issue was first raised in June 2013 when President Park Geun-hye criticised those distorting history and noted the need to publish balanced textbooks based on facts.

The change in the publication system has since stirred heated controversies and triggered fierce resistance from opposition political parties, left-leaning historians and educators.

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