Go to contents

Shoddy screening causes ill-suited substitute teachers

Posted April. 19, 2013 07:32,   


A substitute teacher who teaches Chinese characters at a high school in Seoul`s Yangcheon district used violence to students for their bad behavior during a self-studying class. As the students ran away, he began chasing them and suddenly pulled down his pants and did a sexually inappropriate thing when passing by a female students’ classroom. Though he lied at first for the suspicion, saying, “I grasped the pants because they were falling down,” but admitted after the video clip was released. The substitute teacher whose contract began last month was dismissed on that day. How could such a mentally unstable person be hired as a substitute teacher?

It is not a simple outlier. As substitute teachers are hired at the disposal of schools, the education authorities neither thoroughly screen each of them nor supervise the hiring process. The Board of Audit and Inspection has found Thursday that the board chairman of a private academic foundation in Gyeonggi Province has leaked test problems in 2009 to his acquaintances including his daughter, a soon-to-be son-in-law, and a school inspector`s son, hiring two regular teachers and six substitute teachers. He is also under suspicion of receiving 40 million won (35,650 U.S. dollars) from two substitute teachers in return for employment in 2010. Last month, a substitute teacher of a middle school in North Chungcheong Province distributed his business cards containing his bank account to his students, stirring up trouble.

The number of regular teachers remains the same with 393,009 in 2010 and 393,072 in 2012. Meanwhile, substitute teachers increased by 54.9 percent from 25,806 to 39,974 over the same period. As the number of students in primary and secondary schools is expected to sharply decline from 7.3 million in 2010 to 5.4 million in 2020, the government controls the number of regular teachers by accepting meager five percent of applicants as regular teachers.

Schools hire substitute teachers for lower labor costs to make up for regular teachers who are on a maternity leave or when demand occurs for teachers who are specialized in certain subjects. As a result, the number of substitute teachers has soared and they even become homeroom teachers, which many regular teachers do not want to be. In some cases, a homeroom teacher is replaced more than three times a year -- for example, an original homeroom teacher’s maternity leave, a substitute teacher, and a new teacher –-, which could cause snags in guiding students.

Despite poorer conditions than regular teachers, many substitute teachers do their best in teaching and guiding students and some become a designated driver for school principals. If more unqualified temporary teachers are hired due to a loose screening process, victims will be students. Most private schools recently hire substitute teachers with two or three years of experience as regular teachers. The hiring of substitute teachers requires a thorough screening and verification process.