Schools have fewer native English teachers
By Yi Whan-woo
The number of primary and secondary schools that hire native English-speaking teachers dropped by 8.5 percent from 9,320 in 2011 to 8,520 in April this year, data showed Friday.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said this trend is expected to continue in major cities including Seoul where there is of native English-speaking instructors.
“Each of the local education offices decides whether to cut, raise, or maintain a certain number of such lecturers, and we’ll respect their decisions,” a ministry official said.
The ministry promoted the recruiting of native English-speaking teachers at schools across the country in 1995 in efforts to improve the curriculum. However, critics have raised doubts about the effectiveness of the policy.
The data the ministry submitted to Rep. Min Byung-joo, a member of ruling Saenuri Party and the National Assembly’s Educational Committee, showed the number of schools in Seoul with native teachers decreased by 10 percent to 1,456 in April from 1,633 in 2011.
According to Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, this will fall further as the office plans to pull out nearly all teachers from the city’s middle and high school schools by next February.
A 2011 survey conducted by the office showed that 62.2 percent of 11,900 parents with primary and secondary schools students in the city prefer Korean teachers who are fluent in both English and Korean. The respondents also said they want their children to focus on reading and grammar rather than speaking.
The number of schools in Gyeonggi Province with native English-speaking instructors was 1,490, the highest in the country. The number, however, was down from 2,102 in 2011.
In Busan, the number of schools dropped to 589 from 614 last year. Daegu, the nation’s third-largest city, also had a fall to 512 from 572 a year ago.
Among the 8,520 native English speaking teachers nationwide, 28.7 percent are classified as in the “1+” class, the highest grade on the assessment scale. These instructors have at least two years of experience in the field of education, along with a teaching certificate or a master’s degree.