Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fail. F-.

Brian in Jeollanam-do just did a fabulous piece on the latest EPIK (the government program that hires English teachers for public schools) bureaucratic nonsense. Despite constant news articles and government reports on the need for better qualified and trained English teachers in the public schools and cutting down private education demands, EPIK has decided to make teachers pay for their own training/orientation--with only two weeks notice for the teachers coming in for the new semester. [The South Korean school year starts at the beginning of March.] Consider the fact that the majority of people who come here are recent college are they supposed to come up with the money to deal with orientation costs on top of all of the things you need to buy to get settled into your new life. Apartments come furnished but often lack dishes, towels and other necessary items.

Forget the money aspect for a minute, and let's talk about professionalism. Even retail jobs in America give you some sort of compensation for training-- if it's not fully paid. The employee does NOT pay the employer for the privilege of learning how to do their job. South Korea's media is incessantly filled with articles on how to bring South Korea to the attention and standards of the rest of the OECD world. Here is a piece of advice South Korea: look at professional courtesy and procedure in other countries. One of the main reasons that teachers get frustrated and whiny is dealing with the administrative and bureaucratic nonsense at every turn in their life here. Lack of communication between departments, failing to give advance notice for anything from official vacations, school events to extra classes. I love the social aspects of Korean culture, they are different, unique and while I may not agree with every bit of it I can go with the flow. I don't mind pouring drinks with both hands, bowing or being asked what my age is.

I do mind this sort of nonsense. Dear EPIK offices, Today, you Fail. Love, Alex


Kyle Crum said...

I tend to think of everything in Korea as purely economic and business-like. So, now that there is more supply, EPIK can save some money by forcing the teachers to pay for things. It's all about the King Sejongs.

Alex said...

It wouldn't be so bad if it was after the first paycheck but the 'settlement' allowance is pretty much all used to cover the cost of getting here, visa shit, and the health check. It might be economical but have you ever heard of a company making employees pay for everything, including transportation for their orientation? I haven't.

Brian said...

I just found your blog and came across this entry. Yeah, I screwed up by trying to be too quick with the news. Even though a bunch of other people were wrong and I was quoting them, it was still stupid on my part.

But, teaching in public schools has become quite risky over the years. EPIK has always been a toss-up, and has been ranked as among the worst government-run public school programs in Asia for much of the last decade. SMOE damaged its reputation last year (though loads of people don't know about it), and the other school districts still struggle with poor communication, poor training, and poor attempts at integrating native speaker English teachers into the schools. There's blame to go all around, sure, and foreign English teachers ahare some of it. But it's no longer possible to talk about public school teaching without first mentioning all the drawbacks.

Anyway, thanks for the link, and you've got an interesting blog here.

Alex said...

Thanks Brian! I did do a correction article later (following yours :-p). I think that it is slightly ridiculous that they spend so much money, comparatively, getting us here and then skimp on proper training for Korean/Native speaker integration.