AsiaToday reporter Park Ji-sook
Concerns are growing over a collapse of teachers’ rights following the apparent suicide of a young elementary school teacher in Seoul. In response, the government expressed its intention to reorganize the Ordinance of Students Rights, judging that the ordinance has affected the serious infringement of teachers’ rights.
According to the Ministry of Education on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Lee Ju-ho held a meeting with the Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations, the largest teacher organization in Korea, over educational authority and hinted that changes could be made to the student rights ordinance enacted by the city and provincial offices of education. The education minister made it official in the wake of social public opinion calling for improved educator protections.
“As students’ human rights have been excessively emphasized and prioritized, teachers’ rights have fallen to the ground and public education is collapsing,” the minister said. “We will reorganize the student rights ordinance,” he said. “The excessive claim of individual privacy has made it difficult for teachers to actively guide educationally, exposing them to abuse and assault at schools.”
The education ministry attributes the growing number of cases of school rights infringement to an excessive emphasis on student rights. Recently, a female elementary school teacher was sexually harassed by a sixth-grade student and another elementary school teacher in Seoul was recently assaulted in the classroom, sparking controversy. However, the reality is that teachers are rather concerned about receiving “child abuse reports.”
As the government says it will seek ways to protect teachers’ legitimate educational activities, the ordinance is expected to include that teachers will not be punished for child abuse and other charges if legitimate educational activities of them are recognized. The government also vowed to make its best efforts to support legislation to restore teachers’ rights.