December 08, 2011 09:10
Most native English-speaking teachers in about 300 high schools in Seoul could lose their jobs next year. In its budget for 2012, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education cut about W4 billion (US$1=W1,126) for 225 native speakers teaching at high schools.
If the budget is approved by the city council, most of the high schools in Seoul except for 30 English "immersion" and international schools, can no longer afford a native speaker.
Currently 1,245 native speakers teach English conversation at primary and secondary schools in Seoul, 895 of them subsidized by the city office of education and the rest by the city government or district offices.
"A native speaker earns on average W42 million a year, and we concluded that they are not effective enough to justify the cost," a spokesman for the city office of education said. "A survey conducted for us showed that Korean teachers with outstanding English and teaching skills are more effective in the long term."
The office also plans to reduce the number of native speakers teaching at elementary and middle schools from 2013.
Students from low-income families will likely bear the brunt of the policy. "Students from well-to-do families may find lessons from native English-speakers dull because they've been attending private tutoring institutes since they were young," an education official said. "But those from poor families should be given the opportunity to learn English with native speakers at school." He added it is "too early to reduce the number of native speakers as long as Korean teachers aren't good enough to replace them."
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