[EDITORIALS]Give Teacher’s Day a rest

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[EDITORIALS]Give Teacher’s Day a rest

Yesterday was Teacher’s Day, but most elementary, junior high and high schools were closed. Since the mid-1990s, some schools have closed on that day, but never before have so many schools shut their doors.
Why close on Teacher’s Day? Officials say it’s mostly to discourage the practice of students or parents giving “gifts” of high monetary value to teachers.
To prevent such problems from arising, schools decided to make it impossible for parents to visit teachers on that day. Although the schools are desperate to stop the practice, it does not seem to be the right way to solve the problem.
On this day, teachers and students are supposed to show love and gratitude for one another. What we have instead is them being forcefully separated.
What are students to think when they find out why their schools are closed?
The teachers must have been offended by the move. We do not think most teachers take money or gifts ― most are proud of their jobs and committed to teaching their students.
However, the closer it is to Teacher’s Day, the more our society seems to treat teachers as a bunch of corrupt people who demand, and receive, big gifts.
This year, the Korea Independent Commission Against Corruption has staged a campaign against excessive presents, called “No Giving, No Taking.” A legislator in the Grand National Party also plans to draft a law aimed at eliminating the practice.
Teachers are afraid that people will think of them as corrupt. According to a recent survey by the Korea Federation of Teachers’ Associations, most of the teachers approved of the decision to close schools, saying the move would help to improve the bad image of Teacher’s Day.
The practice of giving and receiving excessively pricey gifts has become a serious issue, mostly because of overeager parents.
However, teachers and the education authorities are not free from responsibility. Some parents have had a hard time because of this practice.
But because the teachers’ community and the education authorities have not tried hard enough to expel the unqualified and corrupt teachers who took such unethical gifts, all other teachers stand falsely accused of corruption.
What is the meaning of Teacher’s Day, when schools are closed because of this problem? It would be better for both students and teachers if the day itself were simply cancelled.
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