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Yoon calls for regulations to enhance teachers’ authority

Yoon calls for regulations to enhance teachers’ authority

Posted August. 02, 2023 07:46,   

Updated August. 02, 2023 07:46


On Tuesday, President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered the Ministry of Education to establish regulations for enforcing teachers' authority from the second semester of this year, stating that "allowing students who violate rules under the pretext of human rights is no different from turning a blind eye to criminal acts that undermine social order." As an extreme case involving a female primary school teacher continues to create social repercussions, it has been revealed that most teachers seeking help from mental health departments due to job-related stress and parental complaints are unable to receive financial support for their treatment.

During a cabinet meeting held at the Yongsan Presidential Office on the same day, President Yoon emphasized, "Without the establishment of teachers' authority, the rights of other students and the right to learn cannot be guaranteed." Yoon directed the Ministry of Education to promptly announce the regulations that will be implemented at school sites starting from the second semester of this year. This move is seen as a response to growing public opinion that teachers' authority is collapsing at school sites. The Ministry of Education plans to release regulations aimed at strengthening the authority of elementary, middle, and high school teachers later this month.

According to a survey conducted in April by the Korean Federation of Teachers Unions (KFTU) targeting 11,377 union members, 3,025 respondents (26.6%) said they had sought mental health treatment or counseling due to violations of their authority in the past five years. This means one out of every four teachers sought mental health treatment. However, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, the total number of cases where teachers received financial support for mental health treatment between 2020 and 2022 was only 64. The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education requires the teacher's school to officially convene a teachers' authority protection committee and acknowledge the infringement of the teacher's authority to grant financial support for treatment. However, many school administrators, such as principals, tend to be reluctant to hold such committee meetings.

One elementary school teacher in Seoul, surnamed A for the case, recently faced persistent complaints from the parents of a female student after he had advised her to stop bullying a student from a household where the grandparents were caregivers. The parents filed grievances with the education authorities and other government agencies. The teacher in question stated, "While the principal acknowledged the violation of my authority, he refused to convene a protection committee. In the end, I had to seek mental health treatment out of my own pocket." Hwang Soo-jin, a deputy spokesperson for the KFTU, pointed out, "Many teachers who experience violations of their authority suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which may require not only counseling but also medication. There is a need to broaden the scope of support for these teachers."