Whether directly because of those problems or not, SMOE won't be hiring native speaker English teachers for fall 2010, a move I read about a little while ago and had confirmed in emails with a couple recruiters. Instead, as was first made public on Dave's ESL Cafe, English Program in Korea [EPIK] will be filling those spots in Seoul and hiring for all the city's public schools. Neither recruiter made any connection between the corruption scandals and the transfer of authority, and Ben Glickman of Footprints told me one explanation for the change might be EPIK's centralization of hiring for public schools over recent years. Both recruiters said there's no indication SMOE will resume hiring NSETs for itself beyond 2010.
It will be interesting to see if this trend means a change for Jeollanam-do, a province where most of the public school NSETs are not affiliated with EPIK. Gyeonggi-do is the only of the 16 administrative divisions that does not receive any teachers from EPIK, instead using its own GEPIK program. Centralization---something we saw with the implementation of policies like "deskwarming" and more standard vacation time across provinces---does make sense, I suppose, and it with fewer school boards and recruiters messing around it would help avoid screw-ups like last summer's where SMOE overhired by 100 and laid the teachers off days before they were to fly out. On the EPIK website is a breakdown of positions available for the fall semester (hiring from April 1st through June 15th):
Among others there are 300 available in Seoul, twenty in Gwangju, and there's one available in Jeollanam-do.
For what it's worth, a poster on Dave's---I know, I know---said he heard from a friend who heard from his whitey wrangler---I know, I know---that the change was because of the corruption scandal. The post continues:
[D]ue to an SMOE scandal at the supervisory level in SMOE HQ they no longer had the funds (and were focusing on reorganizing their upper levels) to hire NSETs come August[.]
Budget issues are the reason given by Glickman of Footprints for the cuts last summer:
Later we were given the reason that schools came in Seoul came in with less job orders at the last minute due to budget cuts. That is all we know at this point.Each agency was given the directive to cut teachers, and at the same time the SMOE administration contacted teachers directly from all agencies to inform them they no longer had jobs.
Though in a Kang Shin-who article, an education official is quoted as putting the blame on unreliable foreign teachers, but that could easily be an exaggeration or fabrication considering the source:
An official from the education office said, "Many foreign teachers give up working with us at the last minute, perplexing schools that are supposed to have native English speakers, so we secure extra teaching hopefuls every year. For this semester, we selected enough applicants for a possible shortage as we recruit a large number of teachers."
She added some of the foreign teachers whose contracts were withdrawn had failed to submit necessary documents and skip mandatory orientation programs.