Rep. Kim Han-gil reveals there are 70,000 unqualified English teachersTo help put this in context, this Hankyoreh article from February 1997 reveals Rep. Kim to be an opponent of early English education in elementary schools, saying that Korean language learning needs to be strengthened first. As mentioned above, by 1997, elementary school English education had been implemented, and his assertion that there were many "unqualified native speaking instructors" was one way to question the legitimacy of the system.
Saying "Elementary school students are defenseless before things like AIDS," on the morning of the 10th Rep. Kim Han-gil, from his place on the Ministry of Education's National Assembly activity report, claimed that, with the implementation of elementary school English education and with English hagwons also springing up everywhere, many unqualified native speaking instructors have entered the country this year, with their number currently reaching 70,000.
Rep. Kim said, "This figure for the number of unqualified foreign instructors is an estimate based on things like Ministry of Justice statistics on the number of foreigners and English hagwons." "That they don't even have to take drug or AIDS tests in particular and are entering the country and teaching children in hagwons or homes is a serious problem."
Rep. Kim also said that of the 660 native speaking teachers invited by the Ministry of Education for elementary and Middle school English classes, 60 did not fulfill their contracts and returned home halfway through, due to their being ill, unable to adjust, or were absent without permission, revealing a weak point in the recruiting and management of native speaking teachers.
In addition, Rep Kim revealed that, riding the early English boom, there are 20 companies, each charging 3,000,000 won, that arrange overseas English language training for Korean children during summer vacation. The programs that these companies organize, however, are mostly filled with tourist and sports activities [as opposed to actual language study], which encourages excessive consumption.
As well, we see his ridiculous assertion that there are 70,000 unqualified native speaking instructors. I guess "This figure for the number of unqualified foreign instructors is an estimate based on things like Ministry of Justice statistics on the number of foreigners and English hagwons" sounds better than "I pulled this number out of my ass." At the height of placing foreign teachers in public schools (2010-2011), the number of E-2 visa holders barely topped 24,000 (and that includes over 1,000 Chinese and Japanese teachers); it's been estimated that F-visa holders make up perhaps 10% of that figure, making perhaps 30,000 foreign teachers a high estimate. 70,000 is simply unbelievable. Not that anyone would ever question a national assembly representative, even though several have so completely gotten statistics about foreign teachers wrong in the past (such as saying that 22,000 E-2 visa holders were missing due to use of the wrong statistics, or that foreign teacher crime was "serious" while providing statistics which showed the opposite).
Rep.Kim's assertion that "of the 660 native speaking teachers invited by the Ministry of Education for elementary and Middle school English classes, 60 did not fulfill their contracts and returned home halfway through" is reminiscent of many articles which have declared the system flawed because some teachers break their contracts, with the most notorious being in September 2010 when either National Assembly representatives or Yonhap used incorrect statistics (again!) to paint more than 50% of foreign teachers in public schools as breaking contracts and disrupting English education. (These stats were never corrected and were used as the basis of this article six months ago.)
Rep.Kim also failed to mention the possibility that it wasn't the teachers who were breaking the contracts:
In 1995, at the crest of a wave of private language institutes sweeping the country, the Korean Ministry of Education launched a pilot program called KORETTA, or Korea English Teacher Training Assistants, later renamed the English Program in Korea, or EPIK. It was the first and only nationwide government-initiated program to address the demand for English education in Korea, designed to place native English speakers in public school classrooms to co-teach alongside Korean English teachers. EPIK, however, was marked from the start by disorganization, miscommunication and allegations of corruption by its foreign teachers.As mentioned yesterday, Rep. Kim was also ahead of his time by declaring of foreign teachers, "That they don't even have to take drug or AIDS tests in particular and are entering the country and teaching children in hagwons or homes is a serious problem." To highlight the 'threat' posted by these white teachers, Rep. Kim states that "Elementary school students are defenseless before things like AIDS."
In 1996, a summer intake that consisted of several orientation sessions, run by Korea University, brought in more than 860 teachers, but by the third week of October, fewer than 500 remained [468, according to the Times on Oct. 23]. Those who quit cited reasons such as inadequate housing, late salary payments and refusal of severance pay.
As I've mentioned before, media discourse has often portrayed Korea has as being '무방비 (defenseless)' regarding AIDS. Here are the title of some articles published just prior to the 1988 Olympics:
Our country is indeed a zone defenseless before AIDS (Joongang Ilbo, September 8 1988)
The highs and lows of a festive atmosphere welcoming the Olympics -' defenseless' before AIDS (Joongang Ilbo September 10,1988)
The 'defenseless before AIDS' Olympics (Hankyoreh, September 2, 1988)
That Rep. Kim would use it in 1997, and that Anti English Spectrum would use it in 2006 (saying that Korean "women are being defenselessly exposed to AIDS" by untested foreign English teachers) shouldn't be surprising.
Lastly, Rep. Kim's criticism of "excessive consumption" reflects a concern of the time (prior to the 1997 monetary crisis), one documented in Laura C. Nelson's book "Measured Excess: status, gender, and consumer nationalism in South Korea."