SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Korea Bizwire) – Language instructors from multicultural backgrounds working at schools in Seoul are calling for improved working conditions and better job stability.
Since 2009, Seoul has been hiring 80 language instructors from multicultural backgrounds on yearly contracts to provide support to multicultural children at schools, sending them to some 80 kindergartens, elementary and middle schools in Seoul.
The instructors are mostly marriage immigrants, who teach both Korean and their mother tongue to multicultural students, provide translation or interpretation for new students, offer education on understanding multiculturalism, manage after-school programs for language education, consult with multicultural parents, and support multicultural events in local communities.
Instructors first started off getting paid 1.5 million won (US$1,328) as a monthly wage in 2009, which briefly dropped to 1.35 million won (US$1,195) in 2012 and 2013 before jumping back up to 1.5 million won in 2014.
This year, the monthly salary has been set at 1.58 million won, 13,000 won higher than minimum wage.
These instructors are paid much less than native instructors at English language institutes who get paid as much as 2 million won per month, or sports instructors who receive 1.7 million won.
In addition, stipends for meals, transportation, and children’s education as well as long-term work bonuses and other benefits that are normally provided to teachers or other government employees are not being provided to multicultural instructors.
They are also calling out for permanent job positions as they have been subject to annual contract renewals despite having worked in the field for many years, bringing them constant anxiety over losing their job at any moment.
The instructors have submitted a petition to the South Korean government as well as the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.
They also plan to work with other instructors in other provinces to deliver additional petitions to the authorities.
“Multicultural language instructors are marriage immigrants who form an important part of the South Korean society,” said Yasuko Kida, president of the Association of Multicultural Language Instructors in Seoul.
“Discriminating against them for having come from another country is wrong.”
A source from the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education explained that there are “limits as to raising the wages for the instructors due to complexities with the budget.”
“The committee that deliberates on converting part-time positions into full-time jobs decided last year that comparing an instructor position to outside occupations was deemed inappropriate, considering the unique nature of multicultural instructors,” he added.
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)