SEOUL, Sept. 4 (Korea Bizwire) — The current law requiring only foreigners to have a higher education qualification to teach at local cram schools, or hagwon, is discriminatory, the state human rights watchdog said Saturday.
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) said it is discriminatory for private teaching institutes to require foreign nationals aspiring to become hagwon instructors to have a college degree or higher, while only requiring their local counterparts to have a junior college degree or higher.
The NHRCK then recommended the education minister to revise the controversial clause of the law, called the Enforcement Decree of the Act on the Establishment and Operation of Private Teaching Institutes and Extracurricular Lessons.
The education ministry has said stricter standards have been applied to foreigners than Koreans because hagwon instructors should have a certain level of Korean language communication ability to be able to clearly convey quality learning content.
But the NHRCK countered the argument, saying, “The quality of teaching (by hagwon instructors) can only be explained under the premise that there are differences in the level or curriculum between foreign and Korean universities. But the education ministry has not proven this.”
The watchdog agency also pointed out the difficulty in concluding that graduates from four-year universities and colleges have better Korean communication skills than graduates of junior colleges.
Having graduated from a four-year university or college cannot be seen as an essential factor in the qualification of hagwon lecturers, the agency said, noting the same law had previously recognized foreign graduates of junior colleges as eligible to be hagwon teachers before its amendment.
The NHRCK said it is discriminatory for authorities to apply different qualifications to locals and foreigners without devising appropriate methods to check foreign teachers’ Korean communication ability or quality of teaching.