A new report from the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology was submitted to the National Assembly giving some statistics on the dropout rate of native English speaking teachers in South Korea. Brian showed that it was covered by five different new sources and their facts and statistics were all over the place and wildly exaggerated.
These misleading and contradictory statistics are being used to make NESTs look bad, so I think they deserve some special consideration. I do no have the report, and nobody else seems to have a link to it. I feel like these numbers being thrown out there are slanderous, and it would be nice if this report got a translation into English and shown to the public if it is going to be reported in English speaking Korean newspapers.
First, from the Times we have this:
According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the number of foreign teachers who failed to complete their working contracts last year rose to 425 from 283 a year ago. This year as well, 252 native English speakers have already left schools as of July, according to Rep. Kim Se-yeon of the governing Grand National Party (GNP) who asked the ministry to submit the statistics to the National Assembly.
The number of language assistant teachers at elementary and secondary schools increased to 8,473 this year from 7,631 in 2009 and 5,115 in 2008, meaning about 80 percent of schools nationwide have foreign teachers this year, a sharp surge compared with 48 percent in 2007.I thought Koreans liked math. This is very simple to figure out.
425/7,631 = a dropout rate of 5.5% for 2009.
283/5,115 = a dropout rate of 5.5% for 2008.
The rate of native English speakers failing to complete their one year contracts stands at 5.5%. That is what it was for two years in a row, and what it probably will end up being this year or close to.
Real quick, why do teachers leave their contracts early? Lots of reasons, here are some common ones.
1) Placed in schools that mistreat them.
2) Placed in living conditions (apartment or neighborhood) that are intolerable.
3) Medical emergency preventing them from working.
4) Family or personal emergency that requires them to return home.
5) They find another job.
Quitting is also a very difficult choice for a native teacher and not taken lightly. If we quit our jobs before the end of our contract, we are instantly homeless, jobless, without healthcare, might have to repay our flight reimbursement to come here, without the money for a flight reimbursement home, without a job reference, and stranded without help in a country that we no longer can legally exist in. This is not something that native teachers want to do.
When you look at the range of what could possibly happen to an individual that moves halfway around the world and places themselves in a country where they do not know the culture or the language, I say these numbers are pretty good. Let us pretend we hired about 10,000 Korean 20 or 30 somethings and took them away from their homes and families and sent them to live in the United States. They would not know how to speak English and they had to give up all their familiar creature comforts and habits (maybe like eating kimchi). What percent of them do you think would willingly quit and move back home? I think perhaps more than 5%.
It is also important to know that they also have increased the number of native teachers in South Korea from 5,115 in 2008 to 8,473 in 2010. That is a 65% increase. However, how many additional EPIK/GEPIK/SMOE support staff people has the ministry of education hired to help the dramatically increased volume of teachers? I know for a fact the number of foreign teachers in my city has doubled in the last two years and the support staff to handle all of our questions, problems, and concerns has not increased by a single person. This means that the existing people are expected to handle twice the volume of work from just two years ago. This can lead to native teachers in bad situations not getting the help or attention they need, which can in some situations force them to just give up and go home.
Now, Korean English news sources have been fudging the numbers which I have proven are simple to determine.
The next article was published in the Yonhap news.
More than a third of the native-speaking English teachers in South Korea quit after six months or so on the job, challenging the effectiveness of language immersion programs installed nationwide, a report said Wednesday.The article gave no numbers and it was only two paragraphs. This is horrible journalism. How could they possibly say that a third of all native English teachers quit after six months on the job? The reason is because they are just wrong and cannot understand the concept of a percentage of a percent.
The Korean Herald gives another statistic and it is closer with the Korean Times.
Some 950 teachers, or 4.7 percent, cancelled their employment contract in mid-semester within the first year and 34 percent among them (as of this July) quit during their first six months, according to the survey.Now... where did 950 teachers come from if the Times article above says 425? This must mean the 950 teachers who quit are 4.7 percent of the total number of teachers (public and private) in Korea for 2009.
950 / X = 0.047 or X = 20,212
BINGO! There apparently was about 20,212 native English speaking teachers in the country last year. So, 4.7 percent of them cancelled their contract. And 34% of 950 teachers quit in their first six months.
950 x 0.34 = 323 teachers
The third crazy article was from the JoongAng Daily:
More than a third of native-speaking English teachers in South Korea quit after six months or so on the job, challenging the effectiveness of language immersion programs installed nationwide, a report said Wednesday.
The report submitted to the National Assembly by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology showed 42.4 percent of native instructors last year ended their contract after six months, up from 34 percent in 2008.These numbers make absolute no sense. Once again... only weird percentages were given and no actual numbers, they are either talking about public school teachers or all public and private school teachers combined. Let us do the math for both...
7,631 x 0.42 = 3,205 public school teachers who quit their jobs in 2009
20,212 x 0.42 = 8,489 public and hagwon teachers who quit their jobs in 2009
Seriously? Does the JoonAng Daily and Yonhap news seriously think that 8,489 native English speakers who were brought here broke their contracts? Either these news agencies are trying to make foreigners look bad, or else they are morons.
The last article is from The Hankyoreh:
The report submitted by the MEST to the ruling Grand National Party lawmakers showed that as of July 2010, 66.1 percent of native English teachers ended their contract in six months, without completing their one-year contract period. The number of teachers leaving their job halfway through a contract has increased rapidly from 46 percent in 2008 and 57.6 percent in 2009. The average rate over last three years is 56.4 percent, which means one of two native teachers left school before the contract’s expiration.WOW! This says that 66% percent of native English teachers ended their contract in six moths. That means that the number could actually be WAY higher by the end of the year. It could potentially reach 100% if we give all those unqualified native speakers enough time to quit their jobs.
This percentage of "66" must be a percentage of a percentage and it is being deliberately misused to make foreign teachers look bad. It is pretty offensive how much of the Korean news media hates foreigners and has no ethical problems printing untrue and damaging information about us.