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Corporal punishment ban goes into effect in Seoul

Teachers complain they aren’t ready for the changes

Nov 01,2010
Corporal punishment is now banned in all schools in Seoul under revised regulation devised by liberal Seoul education chief Kwak No-hyun.

But teachers complained that they are not ready for the changes and many are still confused by the new system.

“Regardless of whether the schools are private or public schools, more than 99 percent of schools set up their own regulations banning teachers from using corporal punishment for educational purposes,” said an official at the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education yesterday.

The revised regulation takes effect today and all forms of corporal punishment will be banned. While students and civic organizations that advocate for students’ human rights welcome the changes, some teachers are worried.

Citing a lack of alternative means to control student misbehavior, many teachers argued they can’t handle situations without corporal punishment, given that corporal punishment has been widely considered an effective method of supervising and teaching students in Korean schools until recently.

If teachers are caught bypassing the regulations, the education office will issue a warning or take disciplinary measures.

Because many teachers complained that they had no positive alternative measures to replace corporal punishment, the Seoul education office unveiled alternative punishment guidelines on Sept. 9.

According to the guidelines, teachers can isolate students for misbehavior in an “introspection room” and set up a meeting with students’ parents to discuss their children’s behaviors.

Teachers affiliated with the Korean Federation of Teachers’ Association released a statement immediately after the Seoul education office’s Sept. 9 guideline announcement and said the education office’s guidelines are too idealistic.

“The schools lack the number of teachers who can manage ‘introspection rooms’ and offer counseling to misbehaving students,” said Kim Dong-seok, the union’s spokesman. “It’s also unclear whether teachers’ meetings with parents will work because there are no measures that can force parents to come to school if they reject the teacher’s request for a meeting.”

Members of the teachers’ union urged Ministry of Education officials last Thursday to come up with national guidelines on corporal punishment.

The Seoul education office said it will recruit additional teachers for introspection rooms by March of next year.


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]



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