According to the 2013 OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey, in Korea, 90% of school principals and 66% of teachers believe that the teaching profession is valued in society, compared to the OECD average of 37% and 31%, respectively. However, fewer school principals and teachers reported that they were satisfied with their job, compared with the OECD average. In Korea, 96% of school principals and 87% of teachers reported that they were satisfied with their job, compared to the OECD average of 97% and 91%, respectively.
The term “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is widely used in education discourse in Korea to denote the growing need for education reform to respond to pressing socio-economic and demographic challenges – such as a low birth rate and an aging society – caused by rapidly changing industrial structures. The “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, led by the artificial intelligence industry, is in need of human talent equipped with a range of new knowledge, skills, competencies and values – and tomorrow’s education systems will play a critical role in nurturing these qualities in prospective teachers and students.
The introduction by the Korean government in 2008 of the University Entrance Liberalisation Policy gave greater autonomy to universities to recruit students using not only academic scores (i.e. College Scholastic Ability Test and high school grades, known as “scheduled admission“) – but a range of filters such as regional/cluster balance, high school records, statement of purpose and recommendation letter, known as “non-scheduled admission“.
In Korea, prevention of school violence and volunteering activities are compulsory subjects for all ITE programmes. All initial teacher education programmes are composed of three parts:
1) Knowledge for the teaching profession (6 credits)which includes prevention of school violence, special education and practical teaching matters.
2) General pedagogical knowledge (12 credits), which includes content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge.
3) Practical component (4 credits), which includes at least 60 hours of volunteering.
Volunteering activities are defined as any form of teaching activity conducted with school-age children and a teaching practicum of at least 2 weeks duration. Many teacher candidates in these activities choose to work with students in disadvantaged areas or from ethnic minority communities.
Cramming schools are private institutions that provide coaching for prospective teachers in preparation for the Teacher Employment Examinations. Courses focus on so-callled test skills or techniques, for example how to conduct a successful interview, conduct mock lessons, etc. Courses are mostly held after the first round of Teacher Employment Examinations.
After completing an initial teacher education programmes and receiving certification from the teacher education institution on behalf of the local Office of Education, certified teachers must then pass a 2-stage teacher employment examination to obtain a permanent post in a public school in Korea. Administered annually by Offices of Education following national guidelines, only 10-15% of the examinees pass the Teachers’ Employment Examination in Korea. Those who fail the test often resit the test the following year(s).
Although there is no formal and mandatory requirement for induction for new teachers in Korea, most Offices of Education provide certain periods of pre-employment training, which in some cases adds up to 5 days of pre-employment training for all new teachers just before they enter the classroom. This training focuses on classroom management and more practical aspects of teaching. Courses are delivered either on-line or in training centres run by Offices of Education. This is followed by 5 days of of post-employment training, whereby principals, vice principals and mentors provide guidance on instruction, evaluation, classroom supervision, administrative work and student guidance. Typically new teachers are able to share what they have learned through presentations, reports or discussion with peers.