KFTA held an Education Policy Forum on November 6th to discuss “The Right Way to Implement Sabbatical Leave Program for Teachers.”
Korea has recently mapped out “Sabbatical Leave Program for Teachers” to enhance specialty and morale of teachers. The program is available to teachers who have achieved high performance or have been assessed as satisfactory through the teacher evaluation system. Sabbatical leave program for teachers will grant qualified teachers opportunities to increase expertise through taking courses or trainings provided by universities, research institutions, and private organizations.
An Se-geun, professor at Kun Guk University, emphasized that the sabbatical leave program should not become another system fostering fierce competition among a few elite teachers, but instead it should offer many teachers an open opportunity to learn further, which finally leads to improvement of school education.
Lee Won-o, vice principal at Sudo Girls’ High School, mentioned, “The sabbatical leave should be served as one of many choices teachers can make for themselves in order to enhance their expertise.” He also suggested that the government provide a legal background, funding, and minimum guidelines for enforcement, while local administrations autonomously decide on detailed enforcement regulations with consideration of supply and demand for teachers of each school.
Kim Hui-gyu, professor at Silla University, said ”If this program is used as additional incentives for a few elite teachers who have met strict qualifications rather than providing an open opportunity for teachers with certain period of teaching experience, teachers would be suffered from another form of cut-throat competition.” Professor Kim proposed phase-in measures for the early adoption of the sabbatical leave program. “In the early stage, it would be desirable to focus on retraining senior teachers with more than 15 years of teaching experience, and then make a necessary adjustment in accordance of the situation,” added the professor.
Kim Hyeon-suk, teacher at Seoul Gaewon Elementary School mentioned “If the government and education administrators only consider their policy lines and needs in applying the program and selecting teachers, they could not get any satisfactory results or favorable responses from the teachers.” She also proposed an ‘unpaid sabbatical leave program’ along with the paid study leave.