Seoul, September 2 (IANS) An estimated 2,00,000 teachers from around the country gathered in Seoul on Saturday to protest the recent deaths of young teachers and to call for the better protection of their rights.
Dressed in black, thousands of teachers gathered near the National Assembly in Yeouido, western Seoul, for the rally.
The teachers' push for enhanced rights gained momentum following a 20-something elementary school teacher's suicide in Seoul in July. It was followed by the deaths of two more teachers, one each in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, and Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, in recent days, Yonhap news agency reported.
According to teachers, their deceased colleagues were all under excessive stress due to pushy parents.
The protesters demand amendments to an ambiguous clause in the Child Welfare Act that can hold teachers accountable for child abuse for what they consider to be necessary disciplinary action.
The government and the ruling People Power Party (PPP) agreed at the end of July to move forward with a set of legal revisions aimed at protecting teachers' rights and enhancing their authority in the classroom.
On August 23, the education ministry unveiled a plan to introduce a new collective school grievance response system in order to protect teachers from abusive complaints by parents.
Meanwhile, teachers also plan to take a day off Monday to organise another rally.
The education ministry has warned that such action would be illegal and that teachers and their principals could be dismissed or face criminal charges.
In response to that threat, the progressive Korean Teachers and Education Workers' Union filed a complaint against Education Minister Lee Ju-ho with the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials on charges of abuse of authority.