The classification and qualifications of teachers are defined in Section 2 of Article 21 of the Act on Primary and Secondary School Education. Teachers are classified into teachers (Grade I and Grade II), assistant teachers, professional counselors, librarians, training teachers and nursing teachers (Grade I and Grade II). They are required to meet the specific qualification criteria for each category and be licensed by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education as regulated by Presidential Decree. Teacher education is offered by universities of education, colleges of education, departments of education and those with teacher"s certificate programs in general colleges and universities. Kindergarten teachers are trained at colleges, junior colleges, and the Korea National Open University.
Most primary school teachers are trained at 11 universities of education, including the Department of Primary Education at the Korea National University of Education and Ewha Womans University. In 1984, all teachers colleges were upgraded to four-year universities. Secondary school teachers are trained under a mixed system of exclusive and open training system at teachers colleges, national universities of education, education majors at universities, majors with teacher training courses at universities, and graduate schools of education. Until 1990, graduates of national universities were hired at middle and high schools without having to pass any exams. Students at national universities also benefited from tuition waiver. Since the government reforms on the teacher hiring system, such preferential treatment has been abolished. All candidates now must undergo the screening process conducted by city/provincial education offices. Special school teachers, school librarians, and nursing teachers are required to be graduates of four-year colleges or junior colleges with pertinent majors and teacher training. Part-time training teachers must satisfy a minimum standard of educational background including 2-year or 4-year college degree majoring in pertinent fields with professional training.
In-service training of teachers is offered to provide training for certificates and professional job training to establish a firm basis in education theory and methodology, while enhancing the ability to perform efficiently in the classroom. Training programs are available for Grade I and Grade II teachers, librarians (Grade I), nursing teachers (Grade I), professional counselors (Grade I), vice-principals, and principals. Each program lasts 30 days (180 hours) or longer. Training programs are categorized according to the purpose of training: information digitalization, curriculum formulation training, general training, and teaching training. The head of the program may determine the course, content, and period of training contingent on the purpose of the training.
Teachers" performances at training programs is quantified and managed for the purpose of utilizing such data in the promotion of teachers and wage increases. An assessment is conducted on those who complete 60 hours or more of the training program. The distribution curve has a range of 80 and 100 and reflects the performance of teachers with 60 points or higher out of the total 100 points. Institutes providing teacher training are primary education training institutes, secondary education training institutes, educational administration training institutes, comprehensive education training institutes and distance education training institutes. Teacher training institutes are established at universities, teachers colleges, local education offices or other organizations designated by the Ministry of Education.
As of July 2004, there were 11 primary education training institute, 67 secondary education training institutes, one educational administration training institute, 18 comprehensive education training institutes and 55 distance education training institutes currently providing training services.
Korea, which had recognized only a single teachers" organization, pledged to "improve relations between labor and management to be on par with international standards," while being accepted for membership into the OECD in 1996. The Reform Committee on Labor-Management Relations in the Teaching Profession has led an active movement towards achieving collective bargaining rights for government employees and teachers.
The Labor-Management-Policy Committee was formed around the time of the People"s Government, and the concurrent agreement to allow union activities among teachers by the Labor-Management-Policy Committee in 1998 has led to the passing of the Law on Union Formation and Operation for Teachers at a ministerial meeting. The Law was presented before the National Assembly and announced to the general public, followed by the establishment and implementation of related laws. Teachers were now free to form organizations and act on behalf of such organizations to protect their interests and to ensure professional integrity. In 1998, the government announced a social compromise with the Labor-Management-Politics Commission to allow teachers" unions to be formed and enacted the relevant laws so that various organizations functioning for the betterment of teachers rights could be strengthened. Since late 1992, the Ministry of Education and the Korea Federation of Teacher"s Associations (KFTA) have held biannual meetings to discuss the enhancement of teachers" professional integrity and teacher"s welfare. In 1999, the Ministry of Education and Teachers' Union have conducted collective bargaining negotiations to improve teacher salaries, work environment and welfare. The environment for teachers to voice their opinions on a variety of education issues has been vastly improved.?
There are teachers' association groups at the level of each city and at each province; and KFTA is the central organization of the unions. It was established in 1947 and about 160,000 teachers in kindergartens, primary, middle and high schools and universities are members. KFTA acts in areas related to the improvement of teachers" work sites, research related to teachers and training, protection and enhancement of teachers, publication of educational books and expansion of the welfare benefits for members. Pursuant to the Special Law on Improving Teachers" Position, negotiation and discussion with the government are exercised twice a year for the purpose of heightening expertise and improving the position of teachers. It publishes the Korea Education Newspaper (weekly), New Classroom (monthly) and Education Annals, an annual report on education, and other similar publications. KFTA enacted and implemented the Charter for Pupils and Guidelines for Pupils to provide practical guidelines which have contributed to educational development. It entered the WCOTP in 1951; the two major organizations, WCOTP and IFFTU, were integrated into the E.I. in 1993 at Stockholm, Sweden. This automatically made KFTA a member allowing it to participate in international education and cultural exchanges.?
The Korean Teachers' Union was organized on May 28, 1989, and was active for the next 10 years as an illegal organization until the Law on Establishment and Operation of Labor Unions for Teachers was enacted (January 29, 1999), which established KTU as a legitimate organization as of July 1, 1999. Membership is reserved for any teacher in kindergartens, primary, middle and high schools. It works jointly with the Democratic Labor Union and various civic organizations on educational and social issues. The membership now totals about 53,000.
KTU's major projects include improving the educational environment, securing sufficient budget for providing quality education, ensuring the autonomy of education and guaranteeing the personal position of private school teachers and so on.Key projects include improving work conditions, enhancing the socioeconomic status of teachers, improving education environment and system, protecting the rights of union members, upgrading their welfare, and conducting promotional and public relations affairs.
It publishes a weekly newspaper and such educational publications as Our Education. By jointly working with ILO, E.I. and similar organizations, it remains active in promoting the general rights of teachers internationally.
The nationwide central headquarters for the Korean Union of Teaching and Educational Workers was established in May 1999 by the Act on the Establishment and Operation of Labor Unions for Teachers, and it commenced its work as a labor union on July 1 of that year. Kindergarten, primary, middle and high school teachers are qualified for membership. KUTE is a member of the Korea Labor Union.?
KUTE's major projects include enhancing the fundamental labor rights of teachers, heightening the social and economic position of teachers and developing educational issues. It works towards differentiating itself from other existing organizations and promotes the concept of teachers as a happy and proud groups, providing wholesome, clear, future-oriented, and creative education.??
Key projects include enhancing the socioeconomic status of teachers by protecting their basic labor rights and welfare benefits, unfolding the "Green School" campaigns, pursuing democracy in school management and school system improvements, raising the level of professional integrity among teachers, and educational development. The Green School campaign endorses establishing an image of teachers filled with joy and pride, clear and transparent education, as well as futuristic and creative education. The campaign displays a moderate conservative stance, away from the somewhat aggressive image of the labor unions of the past.
As one of Korea"s teachers unions, this organization has the right, under the Act on the Establishment and Operation of Labor Unions for Teachers, to enter into collective bargaining and negotiate with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, heads of boards of education in provinces and cities or persons who operate schools as regards economic and social treatment, including wages for labor union employees or members of the union, working conditions and general welfare. For the development and publicity of the organization, it publishes Green Education Newspaper, a biweekly publication.
To promote the welfare of teachers and to provide permanent financial security so that those in the teaching profession can devote themselves fully to their profession, the Korean Teachers' Mutual Fund and the Korean Teachers' Pension have been established.
The Korean Teachers' Credit Union (KTCU), inaugurated in 1981 by the KTCU Law, is the only existing teachers' welfare organization. Its purpose is to promote teachers' welfare and provide financial security so that those in the teaching profession can devote themselves fully to their profession. KTCU is a public welfare organization established in 1971 for the purpose of ensuring financial stability and welfare among teachers. KTCU, therefore, provides a variety of benefit programs so that all teachers can feel pride in their profession and enjoy financial stability.
* Refer to KTCU website: www.ktcu.or.kr
KTCU offers a wide range of financial programs to its members including long-term savings programs to ensure financial stability upon retirement, insurance products (life insurance and auto insurance), and loan programs. KTMF also operates hotels and resort rental services to contribute to the welfare of its members. With seven businesses including hotels, leisure facilities, insurance, finance and start-up investment schemes under its umbrella, KTCU has grown into a comprehensive financial service group with assets amounting to 28 trillion won.
KTP was founded to establish a pension system that allow teachers to cope with retirement, death, injury, and illness on the job. Its purpose is to contribute to the improvement of financial security and the welfare of private university faculty and staff. It also works to ensure that the pension level of teachers at private schools is on a par with that of government employees, thereby maintaining an equilibrium with teachers at national/public schools.
KTP had a membership of 220,000 members as of 2004, with accumulated asset of 6 trillion won. Along with its headquarters in Seoul, branch offices are located in Busan, Daejeon, and Jeonju, providing pension services.
KTP operates the Greenyard Hotel at Osaek inside the Seorak National Park to contribute to the welfare of its members.
Details of the projects, management and pension programs of KTP are listed on its website: www.ktpf.or.kr
* Website information - Teacher pension news, introduction to the pension system, projects, data/resource, and a discussion bulletin board.