KIM IL SUNG
ON IMPROVING AND STRENGTHENING
THE WORK OF THE TEACHERS
Concluding Speech at a Meeting of the Presidium of the Central
Committee of the Workers’ Party of North Korea
January 5, 1948
At the current meeting we have summed up the review of the work of the Pyongyang Teachers Training College made by the Party Central Committee and discussed measures how to improve and strengthen the training of teachers.
The report on the review and speeches pointed to shortcomings in the work of this college and the numerous steps that should be taken to eliminate them, so I shall dwell on a few matters only regarding improvement in the work of teachers training colleges.
Upholding the Party’s educational policy, the Pyongyang Teachers Training College has so far attained no small success in training teachers to work in the forefront of democratic education in the future. It detected and purged the impure and alien elements among the teaching staff and students, ensuring the purity of their ranks, and strove to increase the students’ zeal for study and the percentage of attendance. In particular, it played a vanguard role after calling on colleges across the country to launch an emulation drive to further the students’ scholarly attainments and strengthen campus discipline. It also conducted well the work of safeguarding itself by organizing a student self-defence corps.
However, these are only the initial successes. The satisfactory fulfilment of the responsible duties devolving upon the college necessitates a radical improvement in its work.
Improvement in the work of the teachers training college is a prerequisite for progress in school education. Only when this college trains many competent teachers with political and practical qualifications, will it be possible to accurately fulfil our Party’s educational policy and bring up the rising generation to be efficient workers. Improvement in this work is a matter of urgency that must be tackled to ensure the success of universal compulsory primary education. Since we are planning to introduce this measure within a few years, teachers training colleges will have to intensify the training of large numbers of qualified teachers.
The Party organizations and their officials at all levels should clearly understand the aim and significance of improving college work and pay serious Party attention to it.
The most important aspect of improving college work is to fully ensure political and ideological content and scientific accuracy of teaching.
This is an important matter that stems from the educational objective of our Party.
All along our Party’s educational objective has been to train the younger generation so well that they can serve the country and the people with devotion. If this objective is to be realized, political and ideological content and scientific accuracy must be fully guaranteed in education so that all students are thoroughly equipped with progressive thought and a wealth of scientific knowledge.
As was pointed out in the report, the Pyongyang Teachers Training College has failed so far to ensure sufficient political and ideological content and scientific accuracy in education. The college has had no uniform teaching programme and organized no scientific research work to raise the teaching staff’s political and practical qualifications. As a consequence, there has been a serious inclination among teachers to use textbooks devoid of ideological content and even those with a reactionary content when conducting lessons. Some teachers have used as a textbook on Korean literature the novel Heartlessness of Ri Kwang Su, a traitor to the nation. What is more, this college has given scarcely any lectures since last September on the history of the revolution, an important political subject.
We should draw a serious lesson from these facts and fully ensure political and ideological content and scientific accuracy in college education.
The Education Bureau should see to it that the educational work at the college is carried out in keeping with the line, decisions and directives of the Party, and that the teaching of political subjects in particular is strengthened. And the teachers themselves should undertake tireless research to guarantee the political and ideological content and scientific accuracy of education.
To improve the work of the teachers training college the teaching staff need to be built up.
Unless the teachers training college is staffed with excellent people, it will be impossible to improve the quality of education and, accordingly, train the students to be able educationists with progressive thought and a great fund of knowledge. Nevertheless, senior officials of the Education Bureau make little effort to build up the staffs at teachers' training colleges.
In the present situation the building up of college teaching staff is a matter of the utmost urgency and, at the same time, one of the most difficult problems to solve. Owing to the baneful effects in the past of Japanese imperialist colonial rule for 36 long years, our country now has very few cadres of its own. In the days of Japanese imperialism the Koreans had a hard job getting into primary school, let alone college. That is why very few Koreans have a college education.
At the present time our country is short of cadres for administering the state and has very few technicians and specialists in the economy and culture. There are still fewer qualified people suitable for college teachers. In these circumstances, if we do not strive to resolve the problem of college teachers, the building up of their ranks will remain on paper and we shall be led to believe that the management of colleges is out of the question.
I think that even under the present conditions the problem of college teaching staff can be solved for certain by ourselves, if only officials make an intensive study of the situation and put their shoulder to the wheel. It all depends on how vigorously our officials set about the task of building up the ranks of college teachers.
Party organizations at all levels and the Education Bureau should take concrete steps to build up the teachers’ ranks and settle this problem come what may.
With a view to solving the problem of college teaching staff, those who are capable of giving lectures at colleges should be selected from among Party and government officials and engineers active at factories and enterprises. If they are provided with necessary teaching materials and syllabuses for self-study, and discussions on teaching methods and such like are organized frequently, they will be able to acquire the political and practical qualifications necessary for college teachers within a short time and will be able to lecture at college.
Steps should be taken to radically raise the standards of teachers now in employment.
Since the college teachers’ standards are low, they cannot conduct teaching properly. If they are to educate students, they should have a wealth of knowledge.
Party organizations should do extensive work to raise the political and practical ability of college teaching staff.
To raise this ability it is important to enhance their level of ideological consciousness.
Party organizations should intensify education to eliminate the ideological survivals of Japanese imperialism lingering among teachers and to equip them with progressive, democratic thought. They should be brought to understand fully our Party’s line, decisions and directives and informed of the internal and external situation in good time.
Further, close attention should be paid so that college teachers will be well posted in educational practice. If their level of educational practice is low, they cannot admirably fulfil their duty as an educator, no matter how high their level of political and ideological consciousness. Therefore, they should be encouraged to study further and acquire educational theories and methods and possess a professional and many-sided knowledge.
In order to improve their political and practical qualifications, it is imperative to thoroughly establish the habit of study among them. Party organizations should provide them with reference books and other conditions for study and frequently organize short courses for teachers, discussions about teaching methods and the like.
If we make efforts in this way, we will not only be able to solve the problem of a dearth of teachers but also to give instruction on all subjects ourselves. Some people say that the teachers we have trained cannot give instruction in social science subjects, but they are gravely mistaken. They are fully able to do so and should be encouraged to do so without fail.
The question of teaching materials must be solved.
We must make our own teaching materials in keeping with our actual conditions. Then we can ensure ideological content, scientific accuracy and coordination in education and raise its qualitative level.
There is nothing mysterious about writing textbooks. If college teachers and specialists are properly mobilized for this, textbooks and reference books to conform with our actual conditions can easily be made. The Education Bureau should assign them the task of compiling texts and, when finished, check them carefully before having them printed.
As for textbooks on natural science subjects, translations of foreign ones should be used for the time being. To translate textbooks, the necessary steps must be taken such as organizing a translation committee.
It is essential to supply printing equipment, too, for the publication of schoolbooks.
The enrolment of college students must be conducted well.
The teachers training college is responsible for bringing up people who in the future will be charged with the education of the younger generation. Efficient student enrolment is essential for ensuring the purity of teachers’ ranks and for having the education of the younger generation make sound progress.
In the past the Education Bureau and the college took on students at random to fill up vacancies, with the result that the student body became very complicated, and even impure elements had slipped into their ranks. Those elements slackened school discipline and conducted reactionary propaganda among the students. Nobody should be enrolled indiscriminately in a sacred democratic college.
The Education Bureau and the college should get rid of this tendency to mechanically fill up the set number of vacancies and admit the sons and daughters of workers, peasants and other working people who will faithfully serve their country and people.
Not only should the selection of new students be handled with care, but the ranks of college students should be reexamined so that those from the middle class can be won over through education and the reactionary ones expelled without compunction.
Party organizations should strengthen their guidance of college work.
At present Party organizations in colleges fail to play their role properly. The shortcomings in college work, too, are chiefly due to the fact that they are unable to give it proper guidance and assistance.
Few of the chairmen of college Party committees and cells are experienced in Party work, and their qualifications for such work are very low. People who took the floor criticized the Party organization of the Pyongyang Teachers Training College for having acted like a “censorship station” which proves that primary officials of this organization, although they make efforts, are not well acquainted as yet with the methods of Party work.
Therefore, the Party committees of South Phyongan Province and the city of Pyongyang should give effective guidance and assistance to the college Party organizations. The Pyongyang Municipal Party Committee should not leave Party work at the college entirely to its Party organizations but should give them direct guidance.
The Cultural Workers Department and the Information and Publicity Department of the Party Central Committee, too, should plan round-table conferences and lectures on politics and current topics for college teachers and intensify their political and ideological education. Thus all the teachers should be encouraged to equip themselves thoroughly with Marxism-Leninism and our Party’s policies and steadily bring to perfection the content and methods of education to suit the democratic education system.