[EDITORIALS]Let Teachers Rise or Fall on Merit

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[EDITORIALS]Let Teachers Rise or Fall on Merit

Teachers, members of the Korea Teachers' and Educational Workers' Union, left their schools Tuesday early in the afternoon to participate in rallies held in major cities. Teachers held the rallies to seek an end to merit-based bonuses and to abolish a system that allows some private high schools to be independent of government rule over tuition and curriculum. They also asked for revisions in the Private School Act and the setting aside of 6 percent of the national budget for education. The rallies forced some schools to close early.

Regardless of whether their objectives are right or wrong, the teachers' absence from the classroom can not be justified. Their actions raised questions on what they mean by true education since the rally violated students' right to learn. They said that problem was minimized because many schools were in the middle of mid-term examinations and other teachers filled in for those who attended the rally. Furthermore, the teachers held a rally in last October, at Seoul Station to protest the revision of the Public Officials Pension Act, for which they took a one-day leave en masse. That is why we are concerned about teachers holding rallies when they are supposed to be teaching.

Concerning the merit-based bonus system, the teachers' union said, "It is a measure to lay off teachers earlier. Under such a policy to destabilize the job security of teachers, education, which should take into consideration the 100 years to come, cannot be done properly." Nobody opposes higher status and guaranteed job security for teachers. However, if our future, which will throw us into cutthroat competition, depends on the qualities of teachers, we should not guarantee iron rice bowls to incompetent teachers.

We should improve the current merit-based bonus system for teachers, which is, in fact, not based on merit at all. Fearing protest from teachers, most schools distributed the bonuses in three scales based on seniority, not on merit. We cannot help but wonder why the merit bonus was introduced. The government should improve the competitiveness of teachers by utilizing the merit-based bonus system as an incentive for model teachers, and stop trying to soothe them.
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