Monday, December 24, 2012

Native speaking teacher cuts in Mokpo

After native speaking teacher cutbacks in Gyeonggi-do, Seoul, and Busan, it would seem elementary school teachers in Mokpo will not have their contracts renewed in 2013, as related in an email I received from a reader of this blog:
I'm an English teacher in Mokpo and a long-time reader of your blog.  You've written about English teacher cutbacks and layoffs in the past, so you might be interested in some related news from Mokpo.  No elementary school contracts will be renewed for native speaker instructors starting next year.  Teachers in Mokpo were hired in two waves, one in April and the other one in August, so the first teachers to be let go will be those whose contracts started in April this year, followed by the ones who signed in August.  I belong in the latter group.  About 30 teachers will be let go in all.

As for how the news was broken to us, I think we were told about it in a 2 minute announcement before a teaching workshop this past Thursday.  I can't be sure because it was all said in Korean and my grasp of the local language isn't good enough to understand it spoken that quickly.  I also teach without the benefit of a co-teacher, so there wasn't anyone to translate what was said to me.  The workshop continued for another hour after that which is a little odd in retrospect.  Why have a workshop for teachers when you're going to let them go in a few months?  We were also asked to cheer "Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!" at the end of the workshop, which again in retrospect seems bizarre and in somewhat poor taste.  Like I mentioned earlier though, I didn't find out about the cutbacks until I got home and checked my email where a message was waiting from our program coordinator (sent at 3:00 PM, the starting time of the workshop).

Please don't feel obligated to blog about this unless you think it's something worthwhile to write about.  Whether your blog's readership knows about this or not probably won't change anything for us here in Mokpo but writing someone about this news was cathartic for me.
That's certainly a classy, well timed way to break the news, but then Seoul's cuts last year were also in December. And the cheering part is just... typically clueless. Perhaps a more apt would be the "misquot[e] from somewhere or other" mentioned in this James Wade Christmas story from 1965: "God help us, every one."

Worth noting, however, is that apparently native speaking teacher number are rising in Jeollanam-do. According to these statistics (posted here), in 2010 there were 365 teachers, or 742 students per teacher and a 74.7% placement rate (623 out of 834 schools) in Jeollanam-do. According to stats here, this year the number of students per native speaking teacher in Jeollanam-do was 567, which, if the number of students is about the same as in 2010, would suggest that there are around 477 NSETs, an increase of over 100 from 365 in 2010. (In the Seoul-Gyeonggi area, the numbers peaked in 2010.)

It's certainly interesting that NSETs are being removed from elementary schools in Mokpo but being kept in middle and high schools, which is the reverse of what has happened in Seoul, but apparently these cuts have been carried out by the Mokpo Office of Education, and not by the Jeollanam-do Language Program, which oversees many of the NSET positions in the province, and which is in a position to offer alternative positions to those teachers affected by the cuts.

In other news, Gangnam Elementary School now has two Filipino native speaking teachers as part of its "determination to cultivate world class talent." One wonders if we'll see more moves in that direction.


John from Daejeon said...

While it was most certainly done in the poorest of taste, at least someone it this country gave plenty of notice for once.

Brian said...

A few threads on are talking about GEPIK cuts to middle and high school teachers for the next school year, so that's keeping with the trend over the last few years of trimming native speaker English teachers from public schools.