Retrieve the fallen trust in public educationWith the launch of the Park Geun-hye administration approaching, we have high hopes for new changes in Korea. However, recent news reports say that policies on training and licensing teachers have not evolved from the old conventional methods.
In the past, the government has allowed colleges and graduate schools to offer teacher training courses in order to supplement the shortage of teachers from teachers’ colleges.
But the authorities now want to drastically reduce the number of licensed teachers from graduate schools of education. It is a typical bureaucratic administration that does not care for the reality in schools and the students who aspire to become teachers.
The decrease of demands for educators has been expected for a long time as the population of school-aged children is shrinking. According to the Korea Deans Council for Graduate School of Education, applicants to the 22 graduate schools of education in Seoul that offer teachers training have decreased from 20,420 in 2009 to 12,862 in 2012, down 37 percent. Most grad schools voluntarily reduced the seats and focused on enhancing competitiveness. Evaluations were conducted and the schools with poor teachers training were forced to reduce the capacity to encourage quality education and training of teachers. So the government’s attempt to artificially reduce the number of licensed teachers is not convincing.
Now is not the time to meddle with the number of teacher’s license holders based on the theory of supply and demand. The government should focus on retrieving the fallen trust on public education and educating true educators who can re-establish damaged authority of the teachers. Graduate schools of education can offer a solution to train quality educators. Many students who did not major in education in undergraduate schools change their direction and pursue a career in teaching after various social experiences. The government should pay more attention to educating competent teachers with various experiences, outstanding intellectual caliber and warm hearts to care for the students.
*Jun Jae-bok Chairman of the Korea Deans Council for Graduate School of Education and a professor at Kookmin University