Unionized Teachers Reveal Irregularities
Daewon Foreign Language High School Principal
By Kang Shin-who
A total of 36 civic groups, including the progressive Korean Teachers and Educational Workers Union (KTU) and the National Association of Parents for True Education, held a forum to discuss school irregularities.
The groups, consisting mainly of parents and teachers, arranged a session in downtown Seoul to report school corruption cases compiled by parents. The cases include donations extorted from parents by teachers, luxurious principal's offices, embezzlement of school money and kickbacks for teachers from field trip agencies.
A parent of a student at Daewon Foreign Language High School in Seoul revealed that parents of the elite school had contributed "illegal" donations worth 870 million won ($ 770,000) in 2007.
The whistleblower once served as a parents' council member and submitted account books with a record number of donations over the past three years to the left-leaning group.
He said the foreign language school collected some 400,000 won in 2007 from each parent of students in 24 classes, raising 870 million won in a year. The parent said the money was used to buy gifts and meals for teachers, allowances for school principals and vice-principals as well as summer break bonuses for teachers.
However, the school teachers and officials immediately denied the allegations.
"No way. That's absurd. I have nothing to say about that. We have a school operation committee but we don't have a parents' council," a school official said.
A parent of a student of an elementary school in Incheon claimed that a large-size, luxurious office was built for the school headmaster using money set aside to be spent for educational purposes. The parent also reported that the parents' group there offered 5.6 million won to buy presents and meals for teachers.
Cases of malpractice and irregularities involving colleges were also revealed during the anti-corruption session.
The groups said the government could not suggest any measures to root out the rampant corruption in the education system. "The government better admit that it has no measures against education irregularities and start collecting opinions from people for a better system," they said.
Earlier Thursday, the government announced new plans on Thursday to root out corruption in the education sector, including picking half of the principals at public elementary, middle and high schools nationwide through applications from teachers.