Thursday, November 11, 2010

Public school teacher stats and the inquiry into Quincy Black

On Tuesday the Seoul Sinmun reported on the placement of native speaking teachers in public schools, and provided this helpful chart:

At top are the number of teachers by year, followed by a breakdown by nationality of teachers currently working, and at bottom are the percentages of teachers with qualifications. Interesting to see how the numbers changed over the years. The spike in 1996 and 1997 can be explained by something I quoted here (original link dead):
In 1995, at the crest of a wave of private language institutes sweeping the country, the Korean Ministry of Education launched a pilot program called KORETTA, or Korea English Teacher Training Assistants, later renamed the English Program in Korea, or EPIK. It was the first and only nationwide government-initiated program to address the demand for English education in Korea, designed to place native English speakers in public school classrooms to co-teach alongside Korean English teachers. EPIK, however, was marked from the start by disorganization, miscommunication and allegations of corruption by its foreign teachers.

In 1996, a summer intake that consisted of several orientation sessions, run by Korea University, brought in more than 860 teachers, but by the third week of October, fewer than 500 remained [468, according to the Korea Times on Oct. 23]. Those who quit cited reasons such as inadequate housing, late salary payments and refusal of severance pay.
In 1997 we see there were 856 teachers, but by the end of the year they started fleeing the country as the financial crisis hit Korea. An April 1, 1998 Korea Times article mentions that
Foreign English teachers are giving up their jobs in South Korean high schools because their pay has shrunk in value, discouraging an ambitious English education plan that started just a year ago. Education Ministry officials said 126 out of 856 native English-speaking teachers quit as of the end of last month [and few would re-sign when their contracts ended in July].
The number of teachers in public schools wouldn't reach the numbers from 1997 again until 2004.

In other news, the Daejeon city journal reports that as Daejeon Dong-gu council's administrative affairs investigative committee begins its probe into the spread of the "native speaking teacher sex video," [the one by Quincy Black] there is debate over the morality of Woongjin Think Big, the educational company in charge of running the International Communication Center, where he was staying.

(The Daejeon ICC, from Daum map's road view)

There are lots of questions being asked about the company's responsibility, whether it moved the furniture in the room afterward, calls for apologies, etc.

The article adds that
the sensation caused by the spread of the native speaking teacher sex video and the related problems with the native speaking teacher recruitment process and qualifications has raised questions regarding the morality of Woongjin Think Big, who are responsible for the management and supervision of these teachers.
If only they'd put "Do you plan to film pornography and upload it to foreign websites during your stay in Korea?" on an application form, the company would be able to blame the teacher (who, of course, should be blamed).

Lastly, Maeil Gyeongje reports that the Daegu International School is being investigated for having 10 foreign teachers work illegally, and for hiring at least 6 unqualified Korean elementary and middle school teachers. The foreign teachers were hired back when the school opened in August, but got into hot water when it was discovered they were paid on September 3, but had received their work visas on September 23, meaning they had been teaching on tourist visas for several weeks.


Dan said...

The vertical scale on the plot of numbers of foreign teachers is misleading at best, and possibly totally screwed up. Look at 2002 and 2003: 541 is over 4 times larger than 131, but the height for the 2003 figure is not 4 times higher. The points for 1995 to 1996 are even crazier.

I downloaded the image and zoomed in...there's a faint grid in that chart, and the 1995 number (59) is about 1.5 squares above the axis -- the 1997 figure (856) is about 2.5, maybe 3 squares above the axis. How the hell does that make any sense? Are they using a logarithmic scale or something?

Either the person who made that chart was mathematically illiterate, or wanted to deceive the viewer.

Anonymous said...

Dan, this look better?

Dan said...

MerK -- that's much better. In your chart, the '96-'97 spike is very easy to see, and the scale of the growth starting in 2003 is now clear. One can also see the range -- from '98 to '02, the number of teachers was basically insignificant, and now, eight years later, there's a pretty large population of teachers.

brent said...

Was that "should be blamed" sarcasm off or should be blamed?

He didn't do anything illegal and at most only perhaps violated his contract under the causing no embarrassment to the school clause.

brent said...

Oh and Gepik will be cutting 200 jobs for next year. 1100 to 900.

Maybe avg. 20 different classes X 37 students X 200 teachers = students without access to a native speaker.

Anonymous said...


He did do something illegal since all pornography must be approved by the MCOT. There are also strict rules as to how pornography can be made (for instance, genitalia cannot be shown). His publishing of his videos to the Internet without approval of the MCOT constitutes a clear violation of South Korean indecency laws. He is lucky the authorities allowed him to leave.

On another note, does anyone else think it’s sad and hilarious that AES is devoting more time and attention to this issue than to the Gyopo wanted murderer? I count four threads on “훅퀸시” and exactly one thread on the Gyopo murderer (the real threat to Korean classrooms and society) and which was met with a collective yawn. This only further confirms that AES is extremist nationalist group and not a group that cares about English education, as they portray themselves.

It’s obvious that AES has an axe to grind with Westerners and don’t consider Gyopo criminals a threat (while I don’t condone pot smoking or pornography, these things pale in comparison to pedophiles and murderers). In modern Korean nationalism, having Korean blood is the only grounds for being a “moral” individual. Gyopos who commit crimes while abroad can be excused on the grounds that it was circumstances that made them do bad things, and it was not the case that they are immoral people in general. On the other hand, non-Koreans, lacking “pure blood,” can do good acts, but can’t “be” good. This is why AES’s stated goal of “moral English education (올바른 영오 교육)” is really code for “only Koreans should teach Korean children.”

It also seems AES is (has been) trying to recruit police officers into their fold...

All that said, I don’t think AES represents the general sentiment of Koreans. Let’s put AES into perspective: Currently, their “cafe” has a shade over 17,000 members. This, despite the disproportionate amount of negative press English teachers receive and the handful of highly-publicized stories of foreigner crime and criminals, despite the group’s political support, and despite the domestic and international press AES has received. According to the ITU, South Korea has 39.5 million Internet users, which means that AES members represent 0.004% of South Korea’s total Internet user population (which is over 80% of the total population of South Korea). But actually that number is even lower than it appears. The vast, vast majority of those people are people who probably signed up out of curiosity (including people like myself who don’t subscribe to the group’s views). If you look at the total page views of each of their threads they get no more than hundred views. In most cases no more than 50 views. So it’s fair to say that AES has just a handful of active members and not much general support among the Korean population. Also keep in mind that AES is the only group in South Korea dedicated to (vigilante) enforcement of “moral English education.”

AES is unlikely to fan the flames of a nationalistic popular backlash agains foreigners in Korea. However what is dangerous about AES (and why an eye needs to be kept on them) is they appear to have the ears of some high up officials and the media.

Sorry for this very disjointed comment.

curious said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kamiza said...

I am with Milton on AES as a group really advocating Koreans taught by Koreans. I think it is this point which gets it the unofficial support of the KTU, since what really is at issue is more linguistically qualified non-Koreans swiping away much coveted jobs in the education industry. I have worked with at least ten K. English teachers, and I swear only two could speak enough English to carry on a short
(very short) conversation.
Imagine such a group if it were in Canada--white Canadians on the look out for any misbehaving Korean
native speakers teaching the Korean language in Canada, believing that only white Canadians
are capable of teaching other white Canadians. Geez--what a joke!

matt said...

Thanks for the chart.

I hadn't realized EPIK was cutting teachers. And yeah, I wasn't being sarcastic about him being blamed, but was thinking more about the ramifications of the company being blamed (should they have been monitoring his private life?). See this comment here, and this article here, which has this quote from an English village official: "To prevent a recurrence [of the Quincy Black incident], measures such as strengthening ethical standards during the recruitment process and carrying out ongoing training will be prepared for native speaking instructors."

Certainly the biggest problem with AES is their influence with the government and the media. Their influence with immigration is stronger than many realize (this article notes the origin of commentary on Bill 3356 which links English teachers to AIDS). As for their small numbers, note that this screen shot taken 2 days after their formation in January 2005 shows there to be 3,700 members. A SBS news program a month later has a screenshot showing there to be 10,000 members. I don't imagine many of those members stuck around for too long, and this likely helps to explain the 17,000 figure.

Also, their stance on gyopo teachers isn't surprising. In this article in early 2009 Lee Eun-ung wrote "There are not many instances of Korean (gyopo) English teachers causing problems with AIDS and drugs like foreign teachers, and to treat the Republic of Korea’s brethren like foreigners would be unreasonable."

That's either a blatant lie or the blocking out of reality.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

Of course, it's a lie. It's all about sticking it to whitey. Gyopos are not whitey.