Thursday, November 20, 2014

Massive education cuts in Korea

I recently made the news! KBS needed some background footage for their news report on education budget cuts, so they came by my school and spent a couple of minutes filming my class. 

No matter what country you are from, politicians make stupid ass uncosted short sighted promises in an effort to buy the votes of their constituents. And no matter what country you are from, people are dumb enough to vote them in.  

Each province in Korea at the moment is making massive cuts to their education budgets. Right across Korea teachers (both western and Korean) are not getting renewed in their thousands, and benefits are getting cut (schools are not paying for flights, salaries are getting cut, and the number of holidays are also getting slashed). 

Why are jobs getting cut left right and center? Well, for a number of years education departments have been running deficits, but the straw that seems to have broken the camels back are the string of election promises the president made at the last election (free child care, free preschool for children under 5, and free lunch for all students (rich or poor) across Korea. 

I have copied a couple of the relevant articles below.

By Jung Min-ho <original article>
Some regional education offices have decided to reduce the number of native speaking English teachers at public schools in an apparent bid to help local governments secure money for free childcare programs.
The job cuts come amid growing disputes between the central and municipal governments over who should pay for free childcare and preschool education for children under five years old, which was a key campaign pledge of President Park Geun-hye.
Local governments are moving to scale down other projects to secure a budget for the troubled programs amid complaints from the affected parents. In line with this, regional education offices are cutting jobs for native teachers.
The Incheon Metropolitan City Office of Education said Thursday it has cut next year's budget for employing native language teachers at its elementary, middle and high schools by 5.4 billion won ($4.9 million).
This means that 76 out of 180 English teachers and 22 Chinese teachers in Incheon will lose their jobs next year, with only 9 billion won allocated for 126 teachers.
The education office in Daegu has also decided to reduce the number of its native language teachers to 323 in 2015, down from 443 this year.
The North Chungcheong Province Education Office also plans to cut its native teachers to 113 from the current 308.
Early this month, superintendents of regional educational offices agreed on allocating part of their budget for free childcare, after the central government pushed ahead with the populist programs without any specific plans to finance them from the nationals budget.
Native language teachers are not the only ones hit by the push.
Although the Incheon education office will have a 2.78 trillion won budget, 80 billion won more than this year, it is planning to cancel 387 projects, including mathematical contests and more sex education for students. It will also limit spending on 982 other projects.
The office said the spending for free childcare and expenses for its workers have increased much more than the additional budget.
Last month, Rep. Yun Jae-ok from the ruling Saenuri Party pointed out that the problem of fewer language teachers has been getting more serious over the past years.
He said 81.9 percent of 11,368 elementary, middle and high schools nationwide had at least one native English-speaking teacher in 2012. Only 65.1 percent of the schools have a native teacher today.
Some observers say fewer native language teachers mean less opportunity for students whose parents cannot afford such education at private institutes.
An Incheon education official said it had to reduce the number of native language teachers due to the "urgent situation." He also noted that it would be difficult to recover the number until the central government comes up with measures to cover the costs.
BY YOON HO-JIN <original article>
As local education authorities struggle to find funding for free school meals and day care, the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education said it will fire about 1,400 temporary teachers to free up money for the two welfare policies next year.
According to middle and high schools in Gyeonggi, the education office circulated a document on Thursday that says master teachers and career counseling teachers must teach all of their classes and that temporary teachers who fill in for them will be dismissed. Previously, master teachers and career counselors were exempt from teaching half of their classes and would instead use that time to work as counselors for or privately with students while temporary teachers took their place. The document also said one-year research leave for regular teachers will be suspended.
With master teachers and career counselors teaching full-time, 610 temporary teachers will lose their jobs, along with 358 who fill in during research leave. The layoffs will take effect next year.
The provincial education authority also plans reduce its number of contracted school nurses and teachers who specialize in teaching disabled students by 400.
The local education office estimated the layoffs will save about 62 billion won ($56.5 million).
The plan drew acute criticism from temporary workers, and master teachers also did not welcome it.
“We lost our job because of the free school meal policy,” said a temporary worker who requested anonymity.
“It is like master teachers are driving away temporary workers, who used to be their coworkers,” said Kim Su-bun, vice president of Gyeonggi Secondary School Master Teachers’ Association. “Some master teachers are even saying they will quit instead.”
But the Gyeonggi education authority said the lay-offs are inevitable.
“The restructuring is necessary because the provincial education office already has 640-billion-won deficit even without setting aside for the free day care budget,” said an official of the education office.
Due to financial difficulties, the provincial education office has not set aside money in its budget to fund free day care for the next school year, which starts in March.
Provincial education offices nationwide held a meeting earlier this month and most decided to allocate money in their budget to support free day care for about three more months.

No comments:

Post a Comment