No more quick fixesAspiring teachers are outraged over the government’s cut in next year’s quota for teaching jobs at public elementary schools by a whopping 43 percent. The Education Ministry said the slashing of elementary school jobs is inevitable due to fewer students.
In fact, the number of elementary and secondary students has decreased by nearly 20 percent over the last six years. The thinning has been even more drastic in primary schools, with students falling to 2.67 million last year from 3.3 million in 2010. To make matters worse, the number of teachers who take early retirement in our quickly aging society has also declined.
As a result, more than 3,000 elementary school teachers are without jobs due to a scarcity in new placements even after passing state teachers’ exams. The ministry has decided to cut next year’s quota because those on the waiting list could have their certifications canceled if they cannot be placed within the first three years.
The education ministry and education board are blaming one another for the problem. The ministry is even suspected of preventing a scaling-down of the licensing quota under the former Park Geun-hye administration in fear of aggravating joblessness among college graduates.
Students at the Seoul National University of Education protested to Seoul Education Chief Cho Hee-yeon for a situation so dispiriting for would-be teachers. He vowed to ask the Blue House to help find jobs for teachers by allocating two teachers per classroom.
But that cannot be a lasting solution. An increase in the number of teachers does not ensure better education quality. The government should consider a higher-quality education and training system for teachers. The current grooming process of educators, who go through cram schools to pass the state-administered exams, cannot help upgrade education standards.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 5, Page 26