May 15, 2012 12:56
Teacher's Day on Tuesday is being overshadowed by several recent incidents of violence against teachers by pupils and angry parents and generally low morale in the profession.
The Korean Federation of Teachers' Associations surveyed 3,271 teachers across the nation and found that 81 percent said their job satisfaction dropped over the last one to two years, a steep rise in dissatisfaction from 55.3 percent as recently as 2009.
The number of teachers opting to quit increased from 3,083 in 2009 to 4,393 last year. And in the first half of this year alone, 3,517 teachers have opted for early retirement, up 25 percent from the same period last year.
The number of parents who want their children to become teachers fell from 56 percent in 2007 to just 23.9 percent this year.
Some teachers may be quitting because they need the severance pay, but education officials say a growing number are quitting because they can no longer put up with the difficulties of guiding students and the stress that comes with the job. In the latest survey, 70.7 percent of teachers cited the weakening of their authority as the main reason for quitting.
"Around 20 percent of students in a classroom do not obey instructions and are out of control," said one veteran teacher in Bucheon west of Seoul with 28 years of teaching experience. "I am seriously torn between my sense of duty and the fatigue I feel these days."
Many teachers also complain about the treatment from the parents of their students. "I confiscated a necklace from a girl because it violated school regulations," said one high school teacher in Daegu. "The next day, her parents came to school and shouted at me saying I caused her stress. In the past, parents used to ask me to discipline their children if they were out of line, but things have really changed now."
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