Ministry absolves teacher of abuse punishment

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Ministry absolves teacher of abuse punishment

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is once again in conflict with a liberal education office over the issue of corporal punishment.

On March 30, a high school teacher in Namyangju city caught two students having a video phone call during a lecture. In punishment, he pinched their cheeks and ordered them to adopt the push-up position for four or five seconds.

The Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education, which is led by liberal superintendent Kim Sang-kon, formally disciplined the teacher in June, saying he had violated the students’ human rights. The discipline went on his record

The Gyeonggi education office banned corporal punishment last October, following Seoul’s schools. The national government disagrees with the banning of corporal punishment and some teachers and parents have worried that it has eroded the authority of teachers.

The media reported yesterday that the teacher had appealed to the Education Ministry’s Appeal Commission for Teachers and the commission withdrew the punishment on Sept 5.

Since liberal education superintendents were elected in six of the country’s 16 regions last year, they have been at war with the Education Ministry over the issues of free school lunches and students rights. They have banned corporal punishment in Seoul, Gyeonggi, Gangwon, South Jeolla, North Jeolla, and Gwangju.

In response, the education ministry published new guidelines in March that allowed teachers to use certain alternatives to the kinds of corporal punishment that was common in the past, calling them “indirect corporal punishments.” They include suspensions and orders to do push-ups.

The ministry’s guidelines overrule regulations at the local level, and on June 30, education chiefs in Seoul, Gyeonggi, Gangwon, South Jeolla, North Jeolla and Gwangju issued a joint statement demanding autonomy in making education policies in their regions, free from control of the ministry.

“The ministry’s decision means that a minimum-level of punishment is necessary to control students, not including hitting with sticks or verbal abuse,” a ministry official said. “We expect that teachers won’t be punished for using indirect corporal punishment on students.”

By Kim Hee-jin []
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