I've been teaching at the same high school in Gyeonggi-do for the past 4.5 years and got the axe the other week. On December 23 a memo was sent out to schools by GPOE informing them of budget cuts for the NET program to a number of schools. I found out after returning from a holiday back home on January 17. I was set to go to immigration that day to renew my visa since my school and I had signed a new contract before my vacation. I will now complete this contract to the end of February and then I'm done as the school's budget was already made so there was no room for me without the external funding provided my GPOE.
The copy of the official Korean paper I have from GPOE states that 487 schools in Gyeonggi Province have lost funding that will affect their ability to retain a foreign teacher. 360 elementary schools, 73 middle schools, and 54 high schools have been affected.
Then from February 13:
I went to work on Wednesday and was told that the GPOE would call my school on Friday (11th) or Monday (14th) because they may now reverse their decision at my school (possibly others as well) and provide funding for a foreign teacher. My head teacher told me to wait and see what will happen rather than accept another job offer from somewhere else. From what I have heard, the funding debate is between foreign teachers and free school lunches for the students. What pops into my head is this: if they can flip-flop on this issue so easily and without considering that it's actually affecting people's lives, then what's to prevent them from doing this again on a whim?
Chelleinkorea wrote on another waygook.org thread on the 14th:
I'm surprised to see that nobody has posted anything about the recent GEPIK budget cuts and the fact several people (15 that I know personally) are now jobless.
I am one of these people. I returned on Monday after a holiday in South Africa to be told very casually that my school will not be able to honor the contract they signed with me in December last year because of GEPIK budget cuts.
I have a week and a day to find another job before my contract runs out.
Plenty more comments from teachers in both situations on the two threads. Commenter isanghan speculates
Apaprently (sic), it is coming down to the issue of NETs vs. lunches. However, parents finding out that their children's schools will have no NET is not going over as well as they had thought it would. So, they are considering reversing their decision on funding.
while patch83 brings up a point we could've made in 2009 when the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education pulled similar last-minute cuts:
What bothers me most about this, however, is that I got out of the hagwon racket after 21 months and one broken contract specifically to avoid having this sort of thing happen to me ever again!
News of these cuts came out last fall; a Dave's ESL Cafe thread about GEPIK scaling back teachers was the first public mention on the internet:
A few weeks ago I recall being at a bar when one of my friends mentioned a GEPIK coordinator gave notice that there were massive budget cuts, and all schools in Goyang with more than one teacher would lose half of their budget.
Didn't hear much about it since then, until yesterday.
Apparently they want to slash the number of NETs in Goyang down to 20 for all elementary schools, as there isn't a budget for English like there was 2/3 years ago.
For all the nay-sayers that will claim this is a bluff, that they will not 'fire' us, that isn't what they are doing. Instead they will phase us out and not renew our contracts. In doing that, they can tell the moms anything they want.
Even prior to these rumors and announcements, things were changing for public school teachers with, and applicants to, government-run programs like GEPIK, EPIK, and SMOE. In the spring of 2010 all three, and their intermediary recruiters, were avoiding hiring older, experienced foreign English teachers because they couldn't or wouldn't pay them the salaries they'd command. This while the other side of the mouth complains about the perceived lack of "qualified," competent native speaker English teachers in Korea.