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Teachers' rights to be specified in Seoul education policies

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : April 8, 2024 - 17:47

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(Joint Press Corp.) (Joint Press Corp.)

Education authorities in Seoul plan to add a clause specifying the protection of teachers in the student rights plan for the next three years, in light of a series of cases last year related to abuse against teachers.

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education is currently cooking up the first draft of the student rights comprehensive plan for 2024-2026, and is set to hold a public hearing at its Jongno headquarters on May 11 for feedback from experts, the public, students, parents and teachers across the city.

The new plan is reported to include a section that includes "supporting protection of the teachers' educational activities," which has not been in previous plans.

More specifically, the new plan stipulates that the education office should provide each school a manual for protecting teachers, along with instructions on how to deal with legal disputes concerning violations of teachers' rights. It also mandates classes for students, parents and teachers on the prevention of actions that infringe upon teachers' educational activities.

Measures to provide aid for teachers whose rights have been violated are also included in the new plan, which include counseling.

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education's recent move comes in the light of nationwide dialogue over infringements of teachers' rights, following the suicide death of a 24-year-old elementary school teacher in July last year. It was alleged that the deceased had been the victim of frequent complaints by the parents of her students, which sparked a teacher-led movement to protect their rights.

Since 2010, regional education authorities across the country have enacted an ordinance for students' rights, but there had been arguments that teachers' rights are being glossed over. The 2023 death was among a number of cases in which teachers have been subject to what they have claimed as "gapjil" -- abuse of one's authority over another -- by students' parents.

Amid the trend, a growing number of teachers have indicated they intend to quit to look for a new career, rather than staying at the school until retirement.

A survey released in February by the Korean Educational Development Institute showed that some 50.1 percent of female elementary school teachers said in 2022 that they intended to quit before reaching retirement age, which was up from 40.5 percent the year before. That was higher than the male teachers looking to quit, which went from 30.3 percent to 32.3 percent in the same period.

The Education Ministry said in February that starting this year teachers will be able to use the 1395 hotline to report suspected violations of their rights.