Parents have been banned from using recording devices or other means to record lessons without the teacher’s permission, according to a new teachers’ manual distributed by the Ministry of Education on Wednesday.
The move aims to prevent parents from installing sound recording apps on their child’s phone to eavesdrop on classrooms, as some parents have reportedly confronted and verbally attacked teachers in the past based on such audio recordings, according to the ministry.
Under the updated manual, recording classrooms without permission may violate the Protection of Communications Secrets Act and be reported to an investigative agency for infringing on educational activities.
The manual also contains detailed information on the new classroom policies introduced by the ministry last month, including instructions on what teachers should say to students in classrooms, how to respond to certain situations and how to deal with student behavioral challenges to minimize conflict in the classroom.
Under the new rules that went into effect on Sept. 1, teachers can remove disruptive students and confiscate their mobile phones if they continue to interrupt the learning environment and disturb their peers. However, teachers called for more detailed guidelines for effective teaching to help mitigate against unfair claims of child abuse from parents.
In response to teachers’ requests, the new manual provides guidance on restricting students’ use of electronic gadgets during class, including smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, laptops and other electronic communication devices.
When it comes to preventing students from sleeping in class, the manual allows teachers to call on them during class to help keep students engaged.
Parent-teacher meetings must also be conducted within a teacher’s working hours. In cases where a meeting is conducted via the phone, teachers are advised to use the call-forwarding feature, which offers privacy features for users who do not want to expose their personal phone numbers during calls.
The manual also provides instructions on the use of force to restrain disruptive students if they pose a physical threat to teachers, students or other educational staff. In emergencies, teachers can request nearby students to record videos of the scene and later use them as evidence to defend themselves from false claims. It is also legal for teachers to search a student’s bag if they are reported for smoking on school grounds.
To help implement the new school guidelines and ensure that teachers’ rights are guaranteed, the ministry said it would identify how much support each school needs so that it could be reflected in the next year’s school education budget, which is distributed to education offices.
“(The manual represents) a legitimate form of action under the law. (The Education Ministry) will continue to provide support for teachers so that they can carry out their educational activities and teaching,” Education Minister Lee Ju-ho said in a press release.