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(2nd D) Education ministry replaces director in charge of CSAT after Yoon points out problems

A high-ranking education ministry official in charge of the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) was replaced Friday, one day after President Yoon Suk Yeol pointed out problems in the state-administered college entrance exam.

The ministry ordered Lee Yun-hong, director of the Human Capital Policy Planning Bureau, which oversees CSAT-related affairs, to be placed on a waiting list for government posts and appointed Shim Min-cheol, director of the Digital Transformation of Education Bureau, as her successor.

Lee took her post in January this year, and it is considered quite unusual for a director-level official in charge of university admissions, one of the ministry's most important policy tasks, to be reshuffled within six months. The ministry's sudden reshuffle came after Yoon pointed out the high difficulty level of the CSAT as a possible factor in the steady increase in private education expenses during his meeting with Education Minister Lee Ju-ho on Thursday.

Yoon instructed the education minister to exclude material that is not covered by public education from the CSAT, according to his office. "It's hard to stop people from resorting to private education in order to supplement what they learn at school when it comes to material covered by public education," the president said.

The CSAT, held on the third Thursday of November every year, is one of the nation's most important academic events, as it is the culmination of years of hard work for many students anxious to enter top universities.

But controversy has frequently arisen due to excessively difficult test questions, with some content based on university curricula.

Yoon has raised questions over the difficulty level of the CSAT and rising private education burdens since early this year, but a mock CSAT test conducted in June was reportedly not as easy as expected.

Education and political circles speculate that the top ministry official in charge of the CSAT may have been reprimanded for failing to adjust the difficulty level of the exam, as instructed by the president.

A presidential official raised suspicions of a "cartel" between the private education sector and education authorities.

"The director-general failed to carry out what she was told by President Yoon Suk Yeol and the minister for months," the official, who asked not to be named, said. "We need to see today's replacement as evidence of a strong cartel."

Vice Minister of Education Jang Sang-yoon also said later that Yoon's remarks were aimed at achieving a "fair CSAT" and announced the ministry's plan to conduct an audit into the state-funded agency responsible for administering the exam.

"Since March, our policy direction has been focused on achieving a 'fair CSAT,'" Jang told reporters, adding that a mock CSAT test conducted earlier this month was the first step in that direction.

Jang also said that a joint audit with the Prime Minister's Office would be conducted on the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation to examine whether the agency faithfully carried out the policy.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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