KFTA, the largest teachers union in South Korea, has recently elected the Seoul National University professor Ahn Yang-Ok as its 34th President. 155,615 teachers out of 177,838 electors(excluding those on suspension, etc. from the total 183,000 KFTA members) participated in the direct election held at 11 am on June 20, showing a 87.5% voter turnout. Professor Ahn won the election by winning 40.3% of the total valid ballot.
The president elect ran the election with her five running mates as vice president candidates selected based on their school grade, job position, gender, etc. in compliance with KFTA election regulations. The five co-elected vice presidents including the Donducheon Tapdong Elementary School principal Lee Nam-Bong, Nonsan Noseong Middle School teacher Yoon Yeo-Tak, Jeonju Moonhak Elementary School master teacher Kim Jeong-Im, Daegu Oseong Middle School principal Park Chan-Soo and Busan National University professor Moon Seong-Bae will serve a 3-year term of office together with the president elect.
In the KFTA presidential election where three candidates had competed for the presidential office, candidate No. 1 Park Yong-Jo(a professor at Jinju National University of Education) won 36,789(25.5%) votes, No. 2 Ahn Yang-Ok(a professor at Seoul National University of Education) won 58,257(40.3%) votes and No. 3 Lee Nam-Gyo won 49,424(34.2%) votes.
Professor Ahn has presented the Protection of Teacher Rights, Policy Leadership, Membership Satisfaction, Communication and Participation as four KFTA visions and promised ▲ to reject the Open Recruitment of School Principals and improve the Teacher Evaluation System, ▲ to legislate the full implementation of the Five-day School Week plan, ▲ to create an environment to promote devoted learning, ▲ to improve/revise the overall Merit Pay for Teachers and ▲ to establish a member-friendly KFTA operation framework. More than 40% of the KFTA member teachers have responded positively to her policy alternatives and determination to implement them.
As the new president was directly elected by its members, KFTA is expected to end the last three-month acting presidential regime and represent a powerful voice for the education sector on the pending educational issues and government policies. It will call for policy changes based on mutual understanding through dialogues and discussions rather than confrontations. In the press conference for election victory held on June 21, the president elect also stressed the importance of "win-win strategy and dialogue."
During the election campaign, Professor Ahn emphasized that she had been a "dedicated member" of KFTA who had maintained strong commitment to KFTA activities throughout her lifetime as a teacher and university professor. "I will dedicate my three-year term for the development of KFTA and 500 thousand educators," she has also revealed strong confidence in performing the duties of KFTA President. "I feel burdened because of the confusing education policies," she added, "But I will commit to recovering the depressed morale of teachers and helping them born again as education leaders."
Showing a 87.5% record high turnout, the election was held with much attention and participation from the Korean education sector. Now the attention will be focused on how the new president will interact with the Education Ministry, politics and other teacher organizations. Given her repeated emphasis on "action-oriented President" throughout the campaign period, KFTA's political move will be watched with keen interest as well.