We, the 400,000 teachers devoted to the sacred work of our nation's education, today declare the historic formation of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers' Union.
Today we solemnly declare our intention to be, with our students and their parents, the central body of education in the Republic of Korea. With this open declaration to the people of Korea and to history, we resolve to work with inspiration and enthusiasm toward ChamGyoYook, an education movement for a democratic and harmonious Korean education.
At present, our educational reality is replete with contradictions. Korean education should perform the historic and sacred work of cultivating future leaders who will carry out democratization and destroy all vestiges of the decades of military dictatorships, and who can achieve the reunification of Korea?as under the Japanese occupation, when teachers were charged with the task of educating leaders for our nation's democratic reform and independence.
But we teachers have been degraded to string-pulled puppets by our political masters, by dictatorial regimes that have trampled on our autonomy and freedoms. We have been unable to respond to the people's demands for ChamGyoYook, and our students' right to learn has been denied.
The false education enforced by dictatorial regimes has caused educators to lose their authority, as teachers became knowledge-salespeople or entrance examination technicians. Seuseung [respected teachers] are nowhere to be found.
Who would call us Seuseung?
Successive dictatorial regimes have abused education in order to maintain and justify their rule. As a result our education, to our shame, has lost its true obligation to the people and history of Korea. We cultivate students who are selfish and obedient; we do not teach them to be independent human beings who live collaborating and fulfilling lives. Our students, exhausted by a fiercely competitive education system designed for entrance examinations, have been wandering like little stray sheep, while our success-oriented system has forced parents to put their own children first.
Such contradictions have led education workers to fight for the democratization of education, for it is we who are entrusted with and responsible for providing students with ChamGyoYook. Our struggle dates to April 19th, 1960, when our predecessors, amidst the cruel oppression of a dictatorial regime, began our long march for democracy in education. The Declaration of the Democratization of Education followed on May 10th, 1987. The struggle for the democratization of private schools, and the formation of the nation-wide Preliminary Association of Teachers for Unionization came soon after. Education workers' strong desire for education law reform in 1988 was succeeded by the founding rally of this year and finally, the Korean Teachers and Education Workers' Union has been formed.
The KTU is the best classroom, wherein teachers themselves can be living examples of democracy, for students who must be raised as democratic citizens. Because we know that the democratization of society starts with the democratization of education, we 400,000 teachers will be unable to talk about democratization, unable to teach students democracy, unless we replace our antidemocratic educational system and change our reality, a reality that is destroying harmony and meaning in the lives of students and teachers. This is why we have organized the Teachers and Education Workers' Union, a concrete act of the democratization movement.
Meanwhile our dictatorial regime and its selfish educational profiteers, such as MoonGyoBu [the former Ministry of Education], DaeHanKyoReon [the former Korea Federation of Teachers' Association] etc. have distorted our intentions and trampled on us remorselessly. With their irrational behavior, they are on a wild rampage, intent on impeding the advance of history.
BUT HEAR THIS!
400,000 teachers, firmly united in accordance with conscience and truth, would make this wicked regime and these selfish profiteers' attempts futile. We act not out of fear of their threats or lies, but for our students' smiling faces and shining eyes.
Education workers! Let's unite and fight for our students' smiling faces!
Education workers! Let's work together for the democratization of education, the democratization of society, and reunification under the banner of the KTU!
For Korean education! For democratic education! For humane education! For solidarity with the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union! May 28th, 1989
Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union