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South Korea, teachers protest against parents

Tens of thousands of teachers took to the streets in South Korea to demonstrate and demand protection at work. They say they are harassed by insistent and overbearing parents who call them at any time of day, even on weekends, with constant complaints that they consider unjustified.

To precipitate the situation was the suicide of a teacher, Min-so, found dead in July in her classroom by some colleagues. She was 23 years old. She had been teaching for just over a year. It was her childhood dream to do the same job as her mother. He brings it back there BBC which tells how the cousin found hundreds of notes and messages: all complaints from the parents.

About September 4th 150 thousand teachers dressed in black protested in front of the National Assembly in Seoul. The demonstration was organized by the group that has been coordinating the mobilizations since last July and which is called All for one. On the same day there were protests in other South Korean cities. Between 60 and 70 thousand people would have participated.

Teachers are now protesting because they feel unprotected at work. They fear not being able to maintain discipline due to parental interventions and being accused of child molestation. In South Korea, a 2014 law provides for the automatic suspension of teachers accused of child abuse, the concept of abuse also includes reprimands or interventions to separate children who are fighting.

Again according to what the BBC a teacher has received a complaint after rejecting a parent’s request to wake up their child with a phone call every morning. Another was charged with emotional abuse after snatching reward stickers from a boy who had cut his classmate with scissors.

28-year-old teacher Kim Jin-seo said: «We feel extremely helpless. Those who have experienced this firsthand have fundamentally changed, and those who haven’t, have seen it happen to others, so either way it’s debilitating.” There are many teachers who fall into depression due to stress.

South Korea is a very competitive society where academic success is the basis of any possible future affirmation: you need excellent grades and no hiccups from the first school grades to enter the best universities. In addition to the school, for the children, there are extra-curricular activities carried out in private schools called hagwon and which are open from 5 in the morning to 10 in the evening.

It is above all the wealthier and more educated parents who are putting pressure. Kwon, a teacher who recently moved to a school in a poorer community confirms this: “Their mentality is ‘only my child matters,’ and when all you can think about is sending your child to a good university, you become very selfish.” Parents’ competitiveness is reflected in their children and bullying is a major problem in South Korean schools. The government included pupils’ history of bullying in university applications last February, but this has led parents to put more pressure on teachers to remove traces of bullying from their children’s files.

One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, told the BBC he was concerned the complaints had gotten out of hand. He showed the content of a group chat where parents encouraged each other to harass a teacher. Even cases like this, in addition to the protests, have led the government to issue new guidelines: parents will have to agree in advance with the teachers the date and time of the meetings and the teachers will be able to refuse those outside working hours.

Source: Vanity Fair

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