Protests for more teachers continue

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Protests for more teachers continue

Students of teachers’ colleges are expressing anger after the Ministry of Education and regional education offices announced that they will reduce the number of new teachers to be hired this year.

“The new administration abandoned its promise with aspiring teachers,” a student of the Seoul National University of Education told the JoongAng Ilbo on Wednesday. Choi, a 32-year-old senior of the school, said he cannot focus on studying after the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education announced its hiring plan on Aug. 3. The office said it will hire 105 new teachers for elementary schools in Seoul this year, far lower than last year’s 846. Choi said he graduated from a Seoul university and worked for a conglomerate before starting his new journey to become a teacher. He entered the Seoul National University of Education to realize his new dream. “President Moon Jae-in promised to increase the number of teachers to improve the quality of education, but the number of new posts was suddenly decreased. I am perplexed.”

Including Seoul’s plan to hire 105 new teachers, the country will hire 3,321 teachers for elementary schools around the country. That is only 44.9 percent of the 6,022 new hires last year. The Ministry of Education and regional offices said the cut is inevitable because the number of elementary school students is shrinking each year, while more teachers who passed certification exams are waiting for openings. Most applicants for the state-run teachers’ certification exam are students of education universities. As of now, aspiring teachers for elementary schools are studying at 11 state-run teachers’ colleges, including the Seoul National University of Education.

Teachers’ college students said the government’s justification is irresponsible. “When the government decides the admission quotas for the teachers’ colleges and the number of teachers to be hired, birth rate and demography such as number of students must have been considered,” said Lee, a junior of Gyeongin National University of Education. “How can the government say it cannot do anything about the current situation as if it is someone else’s business?”

During his presidential campaign, Moon promised to introduce a system in which two teachers will teach one class and to reduce the number of students per teacher. The State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee, Moon’s de facto transition team, also announced a similar plan last month.

“As soon as Moon was elected, I expected the number of teachers will be increased,” Lee said. “I am extremely shocked that the new administration abandoned the promise as if it means nothing.”

A freshman at Busan National University of Education said it is a failure in a national policy that the government slashed the number of teachers to be hired by half over just one year.

While the final plan for the teachers’ certificate exam and the number of recruitment will be announced on Sept. 14, the Education Ministry and regional education offices said it is impossible to make a change. Students of the teachers’ colleges said they will stage a protest at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul today.

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