Seoul: School teachers will hold a massive rally in Seoul on Monday to mourn the recent suicide deaths of fellow teachers distressed by disgruntled parents and unruly students, and to call for measures to prevent such tragedies.
The rally, set to begin at 4:30 p.m. in front of the National Assembly, had originally been planned to mourn the death of a young teacher in the South Korean capital who took her own life in July after struggling to deal with a school violence case, reports Yonhap News Agency.
But at least two additional teacher suicides happened last week, one in Seoul on August 31 and the other in the southwestern city of Gunsan on September 1, adding fuel to the anger about bad treatment of teachers and raising the possibility of Monday’s rally becoming the largest-ever teacher protest.
Many teachers have filed for a one-day leave of absence to attend the rally, and some 30 elementary schools across the nation have even designated Monday a temporary holiday as too many teachers wanted to take a day off for the collective action, called “Public Education Stoppage Day”.
A teacher at an elementary school in western Seoul said only 14 of the school’s 48 teachers came to work, with the rest taking the day off apparently to attend the rally.
Situations at other elementary schools were believed to be similar.
Teachers in provincial regions also planned to hold rallies in front of regional education offices.
On Saturday, around 200,000 teachers from around the country gathered in Seoul’s Yeouido near the National Assembly to commemorate the recent deaths of teachers and to call for the better protection of their rights.
It is very rare for teachers in South Korea to stage such a large rally on their own without the involvement of labor unions.
The Education Ministry maintains that any teacher taking a leave of absence to join the collective action will be dealt with sternly in accordance with the law and principles.