The EPIK Program announced on Monday via their Facebook and Twitter account that for the Spring 2016 term, not only would they increase the recruiting of native English teachers for the Jeonnam province, but would also be hiring for the Gyeonggi province as well.
The Gyeonggi province for the last decade has recruited its schools’ native English teachers through the GEPIK program (Gyeonggi English Program in Korea). Early on, the growing EPIK program could not solely take on recruiting for the province due to both its large size as well as the high demand by schools across the region for NETs.
The GEPIK program operates differently from the larger EPIK program in how teachers are hired. In the GEPIK program, schools are responsible for finding, screening, and interviewing their own native English teachers, usually with the help of a 3rd party agency. The EPIK program, on the other hand, operates by conducting the screening and interviewing through EPIK program coordinators and interviewers, and teachers are then distributed to locations all across South Korea.
Does this move by EPIK signal the end of GEPIK?
Not quite. Schools in the Gyeonggi province will still be able to choose whether they would like to find a native English teacher on their own or through EPIK.
While many might be surprised by the move, it is not the first time it has happened. In 2010, the GEPIK program previously tried adopting the EPIK program into the Gyeonggi province to help schools find teachers.
So why would some schools choose to still hire on their own and not through EPIK?
It might come down to teacher preferences. Some GEPIK schools might feel that they would like to be in more control of choosing specific teachers who are more suitable for their particular school according to qualities such as prior teaching experience, educational background, or a specific set of skills.
Others schools, however, will likely welcome the change. Schools in areas of the Gyeonggi province that are less familiar to NETs will look forward to obtaining new teachers in the area to teach students who may not have had a native English teacher before. Many teachers interested in teaching in Korea are unfamiliar with great cities and towns that exist beyond the bigger metropolitan cities of Bundang, Ilsan, Bucheon, and Anyang.