Digital Chosun Ilbo

A report that the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education wants to set a quota for male teachers has touched off a heated online debate, with education students posting dozens of messages on a website about the issue. When an article about the quota, which would require schools to hire a certain level of male teachers, was posted to an Internet message board, more than 3,000 people replied. Some 75 percent of 17,000 respondents supported the idea in an online poll, but opponents argue that it is reverse discrimination.

Kim, 23, a student who is preparing for the teacher selection test, said, “All education colleges already have a regulation that one gender cannot make up more than 70 percent of a freshman class. If a male teacher quota is put in place, male students will benefit twice.”

Seh, 27, an education graduate who is now waiting to be employed as a teacher, said, “The gender ratio is not an issue that education authorities should address. It’s a matter for male students to address by putting forth more effort.”

The quota also had many supporters. Choi, 34, an elementary school teacher, said, “Male teachers are needed to carry heavy things or control male students. The gender ratio among teachers should be proportionate, just as a family has a mother and a father.”

Kang Hee-sook, 38, a mother of an elementary student, also supported the quota. “Male teachers are needed who can counsel and control male students.”

The Education Ministry has taken a cautious stance on the issue. “The Education Ministry will review the measure if the nationwide committee of school superintendents proposes it. However, it is necessary to collect opinions and build a social consensus,” an official said.