The gender disparity among teachers here has grown over the past decade, raising concerns about a lack of male teachers in middle and elementary schools.
The Education Ministry said Sunday that a survey it conducted on teachers in elementary, middle and high schools found that some cities have roughly one male teacher for every four female teachers.
However, men still made up the majority of high-school teachers, with female high school teachers rising to 46 percent of the total in 2011 from 35 percent in 2002.
Officials are at odds over how to increase the number of male teachers, as applicants for university teaching courses are overwhelmingly female. Some schools have a quota system in which male applicants receive preferential treatment if their number falls below 20 percent.
Overall last year, 76 percent of elementary school teachers were female, followed by 67 percent in middle school and nearly 50 percent in high school.
In 2011, 64.2 percent of the nation’s 422,364 teachers were female.
In 2002, female teachers made up 68.2 percent in elementary schools, 59.7 percent in middle schools and 35.2 percent in high schools. The total ratio of female teachers in 2002 was unavailable.
Elementary schools have a particularly high ratio of female teachers, with some 85 percent in Seoul, 84.4 percent in Daejeon, 81 percent in Daegu and 80.4 percent in Busan.
Middle schools also have high numbers.
In Gyeonggi Province, nearly 75 percent of middle school teachers were female, 73.8 percent in Incheon, 72.4 percent in Busan, 71.8 percent in Ulsan and 68.7 percent in Seoul were female as well.
The ministry said there were concerns from some corners that more male teachers were needed to deal with school violence, and build character for adolescent boys.
The recent suicide by a bullied middle school student in Daegu took the media by storm, bringing the social issue of school violence to light once again.
“It is difficult for young female teachers to direct student conduct, while some students even openly defy female teachers,” said one Seoul middle school principal who declined to be named.
The principal added that middle school students were particularly difficult to control as they are going through puberty.
“Most school violence can be prevented though counseling, but it is impossible for the school to direct male students particularly prone to violence,” said one anonymous middle school therapist.
According to a study by Thomas Dee, a professor at Swarthmore College in the U.S., boys benefit more academically from male teachers, while girls learn more from female teachers.
By Robert Lee (email@example.com)