The Ministry of Education announced on Tuesday that it would virtually abandon plans to lower the elementary school entrance age to five, just a day after the resignation of the former deputy prime minister and minister of Education Park Soon-ae, taking responsibility for the controversy over the proposal.
“The ministry considers the proposal to be practically unviable,” Vice Education Minister Jang Sang-yoon said at the meeting of the National Assembly’s Education Committee on Tuesday. “The government has no intention of signing on to the proposal or pushing for the plan. The proposal to lower the elementary school entry age was only a suggestion.
The Deputy Minister’s remark is a step back from the previous position that “public discussion will be sought”. Even as late as Monday morning, the Ministry of Education said, with regard to the omission of the proposal to lower the age of admission to primary school from the list of issues to be discussed during the education committee meeting, that it was merely a “suspension point summarizing many points” and that he was planning to hold “a public discussion and debate”. However, with the minister’s resignation on Monday afternoon, the ministry appears to have considered the engine for continuing the policy dead.
Regarding the measure to abolish foreign language high schools, Vice Minister Jang said that there was no mention of such a policy in a report to President Yoon Suk-yeol and that it came from a question-and-answer session during the briefing. “The ministry is currently considering ways to reform the high school system, and the abolition of foreign language high schools is currently undecided,” the deputy minister said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has announced a plan to implement after-school programs in all elementary schools across the country from 2025.