Go to contents

Schools Rushing to Hire Contract Teachers

Posted April. 11, 2003 22:41,   


▽Number of Contract Teachers Growing

According to the Korea Education Development Institute, the number of contract teachers working for primary, middle and high schools nationwide has been in uptrend since 1999 - 5,600 in 1999, 16,100 in 2000, 13,300 in 2001, 20,000 in 2002.

4,983 contract teachers were working for primary schools in April last year, and middle and high schools hired 4,792 and 10,309 respectively.

Contract teachers were initially hired to temporarily replace teachers, who are on maternity leave or on long-term vacation. But the number began to grow significantly as schools ran out of teachers after the government introduced the early retirement program.

The new education system allowing optional subjects also contributed to the growing number because schools wanted to hire and let go teachers on a short-term base.

▽Disadvantageous Conditions

Since contract teachers are hired by individual schools rather than local education authorities, they are subject to disadvantageous terms. Some schools even hire them on a four to six-months base rather than a yearly base.

Then those teachers will be neither given wages during vacation nor offered severance payment. They are also subject to discrimination in terms of monthly and annual leaves. Since they consider government employees under the law, however, they are not allowed to teach at private institutes or work as private tutors to earn enough money.

Facing the disadvantageous conditions, contract teachers try to win hearts of school principals although they are often discriminated.

˝I did extensive research work for the school, but the final report said that it was prepared by regular staff, which made me upset,˝ said a contract teacher. ˝We are often assigned with chores, so it is hard to find some time for class preparations.˝

▽Lack of Basic Training

Jin, a contract teacher whose conflict with the school led to the principal`s death at Bosung Primary School, was not trained to teach little children as middle school-level teacher. Since there are some differences between primary and middle school education, unfamiliar practices led to misunderstanding between Jin and the principal.

Of 1,100 contract teachers working for primary schools in Chungcheongnam-do area, 660 are qualified for middle school-level education. Of 167 in Geongsangbok-do area, 134 are for middle school-level.

˝When I told fourth-graders to draw a flower pot, they asked me what kind of paper they could use and where to place their names, unexpected questions I was not prepared for,˝ said a contract art teacher working at a primary school in Busan.

˝When they do not understand growth stages and psychology of little students, teachers are bound to fail to teach them in a real sense,˝ said Kim Hye-sook, professor of education at Yonsei University. ˝Contract teachers, therefore, need to be trained to better teach and communicate with students.˝

Seong-Chul Hong Hyo-Lim Son sungchul@donga.com aryssong@donga.com