Saturday, October 05, 2013

Unqualified criminal foreign teachers taken on cultural excursions

'Tis the time of the year for parliamentary audits, which always leads to fun articles about foreign teachers being unqualified, potential child molesters, early-quitters who harm regional education, drug test evaders, or unqualified (again). This year is no different.

On October 2, NoCut News published the following article:
3 out of 10 Native speaking English assistant teachers have no qualifications
Only 10% have teaching certificates

It's come to light that three out of ten native speaking English assistant teachers introduced into Korean schools to strengthen public English education don't have teaching certificates or English teaching qualifications.
National assembly Education, Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee member Rep. Yun Gwan-seok of the Democratic Party (from Incheon) used data submitted by the Ministry of Education which said that of 7,916 native speaking English assistant teachers, 5,405 or 68.2% had teacher certification or English teaching certificates.

Only 817, or 10.3%, have teacher certification, while 61.1% have TESOL or TEFL certificates, and 2.1% have both.

From most to least, 20% of native speaking English assistant teachers (1,585) had social science degrees, 19.9%(1,578) had humanities degrees, 14.7% (1,166) had other degrees, and 14% (1,112) had English degrees.

Meanwhile over the last five years, of native speaking English assistant teachers 25 faced disciplinary action such as dismissal for crimes such as assault or drug use.

With eight arrests, drug crimes made up of most crimes committed by native speaking English assistant teachers, 3 cases of assault, 2 cases of theft, and one sex crime. By area, native speaking assistant teachers working in Gyeonggi-do schools committed the most crimes at 13.

Rep. Yun said, "Last month recruiting businesses and native speaking instructors were booked by police for introducing unqualified native speaking instructors to private customers via internet cafes or illegally introducing native speaking instructors recruited from overseas to Korean educational institutions." He stressed that "In order to correctly operate the native speaking English assistant teacher system established in 1995 according to its original purpose, we have to not only increase the percentage of those with qualifications but also strengthen the qualification requirements to determine if they have work experience or have committed crimes, and be more rigorous in our hiring."
In other news, the sun rose today, and a politician noted that in order for night to come in the correct manner, the sun should set according to the rules of science and astronomy.

What's fun is that a year ago there was a similar report (translated in this post):
On the 24th, National Assembly Education, Science and Technology committee member Min Byeong-ju (Saenuri Party) revealed that according to "The status of native speaking English assistant teachers in 2012", a document submitted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, out of 8,520 native speaking English assistant teachers, 3,671 or 43.1% do not have qualifications.

Among those with qualifications, those with TESOL, TEFL or CELTA made up 50% of the total number of teachers (4257), while those with teaching qualifications from their own countries made up only 8.7% (740).
In other words, last year 56.9% of teachers had qualifications, and a year later that number is 68.2%. Seems to me like some progress is being made.

At any rate, regarding this year's statistics, while the national news gave no break down of provincial numbers, the local press did.

In Gangwon-do, 201 out of 369 native speaking assistant teachers (54.5%) have teaching certificates or TESOL/TEFL certificates, and only 5 have both, according to the Gangwondomin Ilbo article "45% of native speaking assistant teachers are unqualified."

In Gyeongsangnam-do, 284 out of 445 native speaking assistant teachers (61.1%) have teaching certificates or TESOL/TEFL certificates, with 30 having teaching certificates, 248 having TESOL/TEFL certificates, and only 6 having both, according to the Gyeongnam Ilbo article "40% of native speaking teachers in the province have no qualifications."

In Gyeonggi-do, according to the Gyeonggi Ilbo article "20% of native speaking assistant teachers in the province are unqualified, 249 out of 1,312 native speaking assistant teachers (19%) do not have teaching certificates or TESOL/TEFL certificates. The article focuses on the negative by continuing:
In particular, an investigation found that from 2009 until this year, 25 native speaking assistant teachers were disciplined or fired for committing crimes such as assault or drug crimes.

Among these, native speaking assistant teachers working in Gyeonggi-do schools made up over half of the total with 13 (52%), the highest in the country. Three were caught for drugs, and one for a sex crime.
In Jeju-do, 91 out of 170 native speaking assistant teachers (53.5%) have teaching certificates or TESOL/TEFL certificates, according to the Jeju Ilbo article "Only half of native speaking assistant teachers possess qualifications." One Jeju online news site also published an editorial titled "Strengthen the management of native speaking assistant teachers."

According to a News1 article, in Chungcheongnam-do 81.4% of NSETs have qualifications (out of 553 teachers, 41 have teaching certificates, and 417 have TESOL/TEFL certificates), in Chungcheongbuk-do 59% of NSETs have qualifications (out of 376 teachers, 232 have teaching certificates or TESOL/TEFL certificates), in Daejeon 66% of NSETs have qualifications (out of 249 teachers, 16 have teaching certificates, and 153 have TESOL/TEFL certificates), and in Sejong 93.1% of NSETs have qualifications. It also notes that in 2009 there were two arrests of teachers for crimes such as drugs.

There were no reports about Gyeongsangbuk-do, the Jeolla provinces, or any of the cities except for Daejeon and Sejong.


Now as for the crime figures, the articles - and as it turned out, Rep. Yun as well - rehashed the news from a month ago about public school foreign teacher arrests brought up by a New Frontier Party politician (it's good to see that complaining about foreign teachers can bring the right and left together). What was interesting was that the NoCut News article said:
With eight arrests, drug crimes made up of most crimes committed by native speaking English assistant teachers, 3 cases of assault, 2 cases of theft, and one sex crime.
The original report from a month ago also mentioned that "There were also six cases of drunk driving." I can only surmise this was left out because drunk driving wasn't considered a serious crime.

What was interesting is that we now have the figures for the total number of foreign teachers in the country (as of earlier this year), and that number is 7,916. We do know that there were 7,997 in 2009 and 8,546 in 2010 and 8,520 in 2012 (it perhaps hit 9,000 in 2011), but for all the news of cuts, it's now apparent the increase in the number of teachers in the provinces has helped to balance out the cuts to some degree. But it also shows something else. As I mentioned in that last post:
In August 2010 the E-2 visa was split into the E-2-1 visa (for hagwons, etc) and the E-2-2 visa (public school native speaking teachers), but the default is E-2-1, so everyone working in a public school at that point was classified as E-2-1 by default - only teachers coming in after August 2010 were put into the new E-2-2 category. In recent years, the number in that category has grown, with 4,368 teachers on E-2-2 visas in December 2011, 5,068 in April 2012, 5,260 in August 2012, 5,158 in December 2012, 5,218 in April 2013, and 5,092 in July 2013.
What this means, then, is that there were just over 5,000 teachers on the E-2-2 visa in July, but there are about 2,800 who are not on that visa. So even if half that number were on F-visas (marriage or gyopo visas) - though I really have no idea whether that number is too high or too low -  that still would mean there are around 1,500 teachers who have - presumably - working as public school NSETs for over three years. But of course there's no article mentioning that perhaps 20% of NSETs have at least three years of experience in the Korean school system. And hell, if there was, it would never be 'enough' experience.

It gets better though, because not only does this give us a better idea of how to calculate the crime rate; this article also gives us a break down of crimes by year.
By year, native speaking teachers were punished for committing 10 crimes in 2009, 10 crimes in 2010, one crime in 2011, two crimes in 2012, and two crimes in 2013.*
So what you're saying is that, after two years of 10 crimes per year, over the past few years the number of crimes has dropped significantly and the crime rate hasn't gone above 25 crimes per 100,000, as compared to the 2011 Korean rate of criminality (listed here) of 3,692 per 100,000.

If you were wondering what Rep. Yun thought about this improvement, well, lucky us - this article also features his opinion on precisely this topic:
"Crime involving things like drugs, assault, and theft by native speaking assistant English teachers is never-ending."

If only they could increase their crime rate 147 times so as to match the criminality of the average Korean, right Rep. Yun?

The foreign teacher problem is this big. [Photo from here.]

*The crime statistics by year are slightly different from ones made public last year.

In other news, according to the Gyeonggi Sinmun, on September 24 50 native speaking teachers working in public schools in Goyang were taken on a cultural experience trip to the Haengju Sanseong and were taken to do some fun stuff:

From the Gyeonggi Sinmun.

 From the Gyeongin Ilbo.

I'm surprised people who are endlessly committing crimes were entrusted with such weapons. Hopefully they weren't so high that they killed anyone 'by accident'.

Might be more fun - or at least more original - than the ol' trip to Dokdo to help native speakers to "properly understand our land, Dokdo." Which of course 37 teachers from Chungcheongbuk-do did from September 28 to October 1.

At least the banner doesn't make any political statements (and as always, at least they get to spend some time on Ulleungdo (where that photo was taken)).


oldgal said...

I'm not sure I understand why Korean politicians use criminalizing ESL teachers as a political tool. What do they gain by the constant assault? Do they seek to end the practice? If so, is this simply a case of rabid nationalism and appealing to a base that hates foreign influence or is there some other advantage to be gained by taking this stance?

K said...

This post exposes the schizophrenic nature of Korea's ESL industry. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

You know one has to wonder what you do with all this information. You obviously have the resources, language skill, and ability to dig all this stuff up, but what do you do with it?

As the primary generator of this information, do you ever file complaints with the appropriate organizations?

The reason nothing changes is in Korea is because no one does anything. Koreans are the same. they have laws on the books, which people ignore mainly because no one wants to rock the boat.

Is that all it is? You're happy with your position sniping from the edges rather than being an agent for change?

matt said...

TT Johns,
I think it's one of many topics where politicians can criticize and say 'enough isn't being done' and make it look like they care and are trying to do things for the people without doing anything at all. Foreigners in general make easy targets (either can't fight back or don't even know the claims are being made) and also makes no reference to the past unless it can be used to serve their purpose ('look at all this crime over the past few years' rather than 'hey, the crime rate is dropping' and 'the rate of possessing qualifications is rising'). So, on the one hand, they're politicians. And on the other, what with the drug tests for foreign teachers being expanded to half a million foreign workers last year (500,000 X 100,000 won a test = 50,000,000,000 won per year for the medical industry)... uh yeah, they're still politicians.

Glad you enjoyed(?) it.

Speaking of 'sniping from the edges'...
The information is there if you'd like to do something with it (being informed is half the battle, after all).

Anonymous said...

But the information is obviously not 100% complete. As the primary generator you are either in the best position yourself, or with a team of individuals to make these complaints. Some random person happening by isn't getting the whole picture. You don't always translate the stories you post 100%, nor do you go into full details on some things. I'm certainly not comfortable filing a complaint unless I've got 100% of the facts in front of me before doing so. You can't include those all in the blog, so It's inevitable what you're going to pick and choose and feed to the readers. Your Korean is obviously much better than most which leaves you in a better position to actually talk to and file complaints with some of the appropriate agencies.

With all the bellyaching expats do here, it just boggles my mind why such great research basically sits here doing nothing more than riling up the masses. There have been stories that you've covered that have probably been sufficient to make a serious case for action against a Korean or a Korean business entity, but they've just been squandered.

Anonymous said...

I wish a reporter would ask one of these outspoken representative which they think is more a more dangerous criminal element in Korean society: foreign teachers or foreign soldiers.

Foreign teachers are totally under Korean jurisdiction and regulatory control yet their crimes are "never ending". Perhaps the Korean people should heave a sigh of relief for the SOFA. If the USFK was totally under Korean jurisdiction and control one can just imagine the never-ending carnage -- those military guys have weapons and are trained to use them, that's the case with only 30-40% of native English teachers .