Thursday, March 3, 2011

We Have Hit Peak NEST

The ambitious plan of placing a native English speaking teacher in every public school in Korea looks like it will never happen.  At the rate the Korean Ministry of Education was hiring native speakers over the last three years it looked like they were going to reach this goal.  Unfortunately, the money never seems to last and it looks like MOE's and POE's are planning on reducing their numbers of native speakers to accommodate budget shortfalls.

We all new this was coming and it was already mentioned by Brian, but there was an article in the Times about the reduction of about 200 native teachers in G-EPIK:
The education authorities have set in motion a long-term plan to cut back on the number of foreign English teachers, trimming several hundreds of jobs at primary and secondary schools in Gyeonggi Province from this spring semester.

According to the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education, the budget allocated to hire foreign English teachers fell to 22.7 billion won ($20 million) for this year from 30 billion won in 2010.
Cho Young-min, senior supervisor of the education office, said the budget cut is in line with the plan to reduce the number of foreign teachers in phases in the years to come. ``We plan to cut about 200 teachers in 2011 from this month. We will also gradually cut the overall number in the coming years,’’ the supervisor said.

But he did not specify how many jobs will be shed at its GEPIK (Gyeonggi English Program in Korea.) Arranged as a three-year project, the English program by the provincial office had hired more teachers over the past three years. In 2010, the number of teachers increased to some 2,252 in Gyeonggi, a 110 percent jump from 2008 when they first started out with some 1,000.

However, after reaching its peak last year, the number of foreign teachers is expected to slide over the next three years in the province surrounding Seoul. Cho said the cut will be made upon requests from schools, with Korean English conversation teachers replacing them. [...]
There is nothing wrong with reducing the number of native teachers.  I have already made my case that Korean conversation teachers should not replace NESTs.  But I recognize and understand that they do more work for less pay, teach alone, and cost less to the schools because they do not receive housing or a flight reimbursement.  They are still an infinitely better option than expecting homeroom teachers (with little to no English training or language abilities) to cover the expanding number of English class hours in a week in the public school curriculum.

Unfortunately, like mentioned by Brian and Roboseyo, G-EPIK appears to be targeting more experienced teachers with higher salaries to be let go first.  It appears Korea's focus up until this point was quantity over quality of teachers and now they really want neither quantity or quality anymore.  It is not fair for Korean netizens to complain about the quality of teaching from NESTs when experienced teachers with real credentials are discriminated against during the hiring process and then are the first to be let go when the money comes up short.


aprilantipodal said...

It's not surprising that this has come up, what with the high cost of these programs. On the other hand, the parents seem to be reacting badly to the cuts, and if you think it's bad now, wait til a newly-NEST-less school's English scores drop (from any factor).

Also, I was gratified to see that the article Brian was looking at brought up that contrary to popular belief, NESTs get generally good reviews from teachers and schools.

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