With a degree in education, a teaching license and years of experience teaching English to Korean students in his homeland, Filipino teacher Angelie Sawyer thought it would be easy to find a job in Korea, the country where demand for English teachers outruns supply.
Sawyer came to Seoul last February, joining her husband, American lawyer Michael Sawyer, but has not been able to find a teaching job purely because of her nationality. She had applied for teaching positions at the programs run by education authorities in Seoul and Gyeonggi, but was rejected.
``When I saw some ads, I would send my resume. But they would call me and ask about my nationality, and if I said I’m Filipino, they would say it’s hard to get a visa,” Sawyer told The Korea Times. “I feel really bad about it. It’s unfair. Koreans go to the Philippines to learn English, but here in Korea, Filipinos can’t teach English.’’
Sawyer has yet to get a teaching job. She and her husband are volunteering at the Seoul Global Center to teach English to underprivileged kids.
She says it’s obviously “racial discrimination” issuing English teaching (E-2) visas for the mere reason people are white rather than verifying their qualifications as a teacher.
The article closes by saying Mr. Sawyer is hoping to raise awareness about the issue through the complaint.
It's an issue worth considering, and certainly we've talked plenty on this site and on the messageboards about the issue of "qualified" English teachers and Korea's peculiar relationship with them, most recently with the Indian English teachers and with the word that public schools and agencies like EPIK, GEPIK, and SMOE aren't willing to pay for older, experienced foreign English teachers. In short, though, it should be reiterated that because South Korea has chosen to hire large numbers of "native speaker English teachers," there are naturally restrictions on who it accepts and limits to the "qualifications" needed. That brings up an interesting point made in the report filed by Mr. Sawyer, reprinted here with permission:
It is interesting to note that many of these aforementioned seven countries have more than one official national language and, furthermore, that English is not the mother tongue of more than a few South Africans, Canadians and Americans. On the other hand, English is one of two official national languages in the Philippines, where it is the lingua franca of government, academia and science.