June 24, 2022

Education sector divided on lowering minimum age for political party membership




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Education sector divided on lowering minimum age for political party membership

Students study in a high school classroom in Daegu, in this October 19, 2021 photo.
Students study in a high school classroom in Daegu, in this October 19, 2021 photo.


By Jung Da-min

The education sector has been divided over the recent passage of a bill that lowered the age of eligibility for political party membership to 16. like ideological conflicts and divisions among students.

On Tuesday, the National Assembly adopted the draft revision of the Law on Political Parties aimed at lowering the minimum age for membership in a political party from 18 to 16, which means that first-year high school students can join a political party and senior citizens can run for office. It followed an earlier decision to lower the age limit for candidates in general and local elections from 25 to 18.

With a series of major elections due to be held this year, including the presidential and assembly elections on March 9 and local elections on June 1, more young people are expected to participate. to politics by joining political parties or by standing in such elections. as candidates in addition to voting.

Many political parties and political observers welcomed the lowering of the age requirement, saying the changes would ensure that young people have the opportunity to present solutions to their own problems, such as job creation or gender conflicts.

However, opinions are divided in education circles.

Those who expressed concerns said other measures should also be discussed to protect minors from possible consequences of their political activities.

The Korean Federation of Teachers ‘Associations (KFTA) said other relevant laws should also be revised to protect students’ right to learning. They said political activities such as election campaigns, political party announcements and recruiting should not be allowed on school grounds.

“The classroom can be turned into a battleground for political parties or camps, if campaigns for or against a specific political party or candidate are organized in schools,” said Shin Hyun-wook, chief of staff. the political division of the KFTA.

“The National Assembly and education authorities should take steps to prepare additional and protective measures, such as enacting laws to prevent schools from being used for certain electoral or political purposes, so that schools are not taken away. in unnecessary controversies and conflicts. “

Lawmakers passed a bill to revise the law on political parties, aimed at lowering the age limit for membership in a political party from 18 to 16, during a plenary session of the National Assembly in Yeouido, in Seoul, Tuesday.  Yonhap
Lawmakers passed a bill to revise the law on political parties, aimed at lowering the age limit for membership in a political party from 18 to 16, during a plenary session of the National Assembly in Yeouido, in Seoul, Tuesday. Yonhap


However, liberal educational organizations have welcomed the changes.

The Korea Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU) said in a comment, “The process by which young people actively exercise their political rights will be the process of developing their ability to live as citizens.

The KTU also said the minimum age limit for political party membership should ultimately be abolished. He also called for the abolition of a clause requiring people between the ages of 16 and 18 to obtain the consent of a parent or legal guardian when joining a political party.

Political commentators have also said that reducing the age limit in political activities is a necessary step in the country’s politics, and any concerns stem from distorted images of politics created by established politicians.

“Politics should not be seen as a dirty thing, but rather to change the world. Politicians themselves have built the false perception that it is not good for young students to pay attention to politics while ‘they should focus more on their studies,’ commented political commentator Choi. Young he said.

“Until now, politics has been widely seen as an area where older generations participate and has become boring. This negative image of politics should be changed to be seen as something that should be learned from an early age. to learn how to change society. “