Published : 2013-10-09 19:24
Updated : 2013-10-09 19:24
An international study on teachers has found that Korea ranks highly in terms of social status of teachers but near the bottom when it comes to the amount of respect that teachers receive from students.
The disturbing finding was presented by the “Global Teacher Status Index,” the first ever study that compares the status of teachers in 21 major countries. It was published by the Varkey GEMS Foundation, a nonprofit in London devoted to improving education for disadvantaged students. It is based on a poll of 1,000 people in each country.
According to the survey, Korea came fourth in social status of teachers, following China, Greece and Turkey. One of the key pillars that sustain the high status of Korean teachers is high pay. The average salary of Korean teachers in PPP terms amounted to $43,874, the third highest after that of Singapore and the United States.
As Korean teachers are well paid, teaching is a sought-after profession here. According to the survey, Korea is second only to China in terms of the proportion of the respondents who would encourage their child to go into education.
The fact that Korean teachers enjoy high social status is basically a good thing for the nation’s future. A country’s future depends largely on the quality of its education, which in turn is determined by the level of teachers. The best way to improve teacher quality is to enhance teacher status by paying them well.
But the problem with Korean teachers is that they are neither respected by students nor trusted by parents. According to the survey, only 11 percent of the respondents strongly believe that students respect their teachers, the smallest proportion among the polled countries.
Korea is also at the bottom of the table, together with Israel and Japan, when it comes to trust in teachers. A large proportion of respondents do not think that teachers can be trusted to deliver good education to students. They also lack faith in their education system.
One conclusion from the survey’s findings is that while Korean society treats teachers well, they fail to meet their responsibilities and play the roles expected of them. Korean teachers need to realize that they owe society a great deal. All of this highlights the need to establish a demanding teacher evaluation system.
The educational authorities introduced in 2010 a system to assess the performance of teachers at primary and secondary schools. The system needs to take firm root to put pressure on teachers to perform better and behave in a way that wins respect and trust from students.