More teachers retire on diminished authority

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More teachers retire on diminished authority

Recent statistics reported by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education shows that an increasing number of teachers in Seoul are applying for early retirement, raising concerns that teachers’ diminished authority in classrooms is partly to blame.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education yesterday, a total of 920 teachers from both public and private elementary, middle and high schools in Seoul applied for early retirement at the end of next month, which is up by 25.6 percent from last year during the same period, when 732 teachers applied, and up by 55.4 percent from August last year, in which 592 teachers applied.

The increased rate of teachers applying for early retirement was especially high in public schools. Among all teachers who applied for early retirement in Seoul this year, 691 were from public schools, including 347 from elementary schools, 235 from middle schools and 106 from high schools, which is a drastic increase from 542 teachers from public schools in February last year and 447 in August last year.

Gyeonggi is also seeing a large increase in retiring teachers. The province received a total of 563 applications for early retirement in February from 248 elementary school teachers and 315 middle school teachers. Compared to last February’s number of retired teachers of 389, there was a 44.7 percent increase this year. Most notably, the number of middle school teachers increased by 90.9 percent.

Education offices accept early retirements twice a year in February and August. Only those who have been serving in a teaching position for more than 20 years and with more than a year left until the retirement age can apply for the early retirement.

An official from the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said, “There could be numerous reasons to the increase in early retirements from teachers but it can be assumed that increasing difficulties to control students while diminishing atmosphere of having respect for teachers as the main contributors to the increase.”

However, not all applications for early retirement are accepted by the education office. According to the city education office, only a certain number of teachers will have their application approved, depending on the size of the budget for teachers’ early retirement severance pay. If the application volume exceeds the budget, teachers will go through a sorting process according to the duration of their teaching experience and only a certain number of teachers will be approved.

As the number of early-retiring teachers increases rapidly each year, a budget deficit for teachers’ severance pay has caused problems at the city education office. According to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, considering the current budget for early retirement severance pay is 28 billion won ($24 million), which is equivalent to last year, only about 300 teachers will be approved, making it about one in every two teachers who will have their applications approved.


By Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

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