1 in 10 foreign English instructors verified
By Lee Hyo-sik
Education authorities have failed to properly check the identity and qualifications of foreign English teachers hired by private learning institutes.
The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said Friday that it has been able to verify criminal records, medical history and other personal details of only 9.3 percent of non-Koreans working at cram schools, or hagwon in Korean, as English instructors in the capital city.
By district, the Seongbuk Education Office in northern Seoul checked the identity of only eight teachers out of 152, recording the lowest verification rate of 5.2 percent.
The Gangnam Education Office posted a 5.3 percent rate as it checked personal details of only 115 hagwon teachers out of 2,172.
Under the revised law governing foreign language teachers and private institutions employing them, which went into effect on Oct. 26, 2011, the education office should confirm not only their passports, visas and foreign registration cards, but also their police records provided by native countries and latest health reports.
``Private language institutes are primarily responsible for hiring qualified instructors from foreign countries. Employers are required to check all official documents on their employees whether they committed crimes or contracted contagious diseases,’’ said an official at the Seoul education office’s lifetime education department, who declined to be named.
The official said the education office then reviews all those documents from private language institutes for authenticity. Institutes will have to pay up to 3 million won ($2,600) or face closure if they do not follow the new requirements under the law.
There are about 22,600 non-Koreans with E-2 visa holders here and around 15,000 of them are employed at hagwon teaching English across the country.
``Rules concerning the employment of foreign language teachers were tightened last October following a series of unfortunate incidents involving them over the past few years. Under the revised regulations, we need to verify whether they were engaged in criminal activities in home countries,’’ he said. ``They should also submit a medical checkup conducted within a month prior to the employment.’’
The official then said it usually takes at least several months for those already employed at hagwon to file their criminal records. ``They have to ask their family members or friends back home to send them documents of their criminal history. But it takes at least three months. This is why the education office has not yet been able to finish the verification process.’’
He said only a few English and other foreign language instructors have been engaged in criminal activities, saying local media outlets tend to exaggerate the seriousness of crimes committed by English teachers and provide a largely inaccurate impression that many instructors were unqualified and would pose a threat to pupils.
지난해 학파라치, 추가 수강료 범위 축소 등을 명시한 학원법 개정안이 시행됐지만 교습비 등 변경사항 등록, 외국인 강사 검증 등 실제 진행 상황은 지지부진한 것으로 드러났다.
6일 서울시교육청에 따르면 현재 서울 지역 학원에서 일하고 있는 외국인강사 검증 추진율은 9.26%에 불과하다.
개정안은 학원에서 외국인 강사를 채용할 경우 범죄경력증명서, 건강진단서, 학력증명서 외 여권·비자 및 외국인등록증을 추가로 확인해 불법 체류자에 대한 검증을 해야 한다고 명시되어 있다.
하지만 성북교육청(강북·성북구)의 경우 전체 외국인 강사 152명 중 8명만 검증해 5.26%의 가장 낮은 추진율을 보였다.
외국인강사가 가장 많이 등록된 강남교육청(강남·서초구)의 경우 2172명 중 115명 검증에 그쳐 5.29%를 기록했으며 남부교육청 역시 204명 중 16명 검증으로 한 자리수 추진율(7.84%)을 보였다.