SEOUL, May 13 (Korea Bizwire) — Education authorities are stepping up to prevent the unwelcome practice of overzealous parents calling teachers after working hours, depriving them of rest and privacy.
The South Gyeongsang Provincial Office of Education announced plans to assign ‘phone numbers for work’ to teachers within the second half of this year, starting with homeroom teachers and guidance counselors at some 300 schools with past records of infringement of teacher’s authority, to stop parents from calling teachers using their private phone numbers after work.
The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) also plans to distribute work phones to teachers within the second half of this year.
In a survey conducted by the Korea Federation of Teacher’s Associations, 96.4 percent out of 1,835 teachers said they gave their private phone number to students or their parents.
Among those who received calls from students or their parents, 64.2 percent said the calls and messages came irrespective of their working hours.
While the new plan is being welcomed by teachers, there are concerns that working parents won’t be able to contact teachers.
Parents are also not informed of the teacher’s availability between classes, making it difficult for them to decide on the best time to call.
In response, the SMOE said it will send out additional guidelines to teachers to notify parents of night-duty offices and their emergency contact information, and ask the teachers to actively communicate with parents during working hours using KakaoTalk and other means of contact.
Financing the new plan is also a difficult task. There are currently 38,000 teachers working as homeroom teachers in elementary, middle, and high schools in Seoul.
It will cost at least 10 billion won (US$8.4 million) each year for mobile charges only, excluding the cost of the mobile phones.
“It is realistically impossible to provide mobile phones to all homeroom teachers using our budget,” said the SMOE.
“We are considering using the basic operating budget at each school to provide work phones to teachers in the long run.”
Some argue that giving out work phones is no more than a temporary solution, and that the fundamental problem lies in the lack of respect for teachers.
There were as many as 770 cases of infringement of teacher’s authority reported last year at the Seoul Office of Education.
In addition, 501 cases were reported to the Korea Federation of Teacher’s Associations last year, doubling over the last ten years.
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)