Ministry of Education proposes sending children to school 1 year earlier

Education Minister Park Soon-ae speaks at a press briefing at the government complex in central Seoul on Friday, before reporting to the president. (Yonhap)

The Ministry of Education has proposed a reform of the school system to send children to primary school 1 year earlier.

The Ministry of Education obtained the green light on Friday afternoon to work on a reform of the current school system which would lower the age of entry into elementary school by one year.

Education Minister Park Soon-ae directly briefed President Yoon Suk-yeol on the ministry’s agenda at the presidential office in Yongsan-gu in central Seoul, where Yoon ordered Park to lobby for the reform “immediately”, according to its spokesman Kang In-Sun.

In Korea, children attend elementary school from March 1 of the year following the year in which they turn six years old, counted according to the international age system. The public proposal from the Ministry of Education would lower the school entry age from one year to five years.

“The state should provide education to all children at the right time,” Park said during a press briefing held before reporting to the president.

In September, the ministry will launch a survey of 20,000 pupils and their parents, asking them whether or not they agree with the reform of the school years.

“That’s why I insisted on reporting to the president today. We have a tight schedule,” Park said, explaining the rushed presentation of the report to the president. Friday’s ministry briefing was canceled at the last minute the day before, but eventually held as expected.

Park hopes children will be able to enter schools under the new system in 2025. Some schools and districts may pilot the early entry program beginning in 2024.

Along with lowering the school entry age, the ministry will push for an integration of kindergartens and care centers, a subject often discussed and addressed by previous administrations.

In Korea, newborns up to the age of 5 can attend care centers run by local governments and the Ministry of Health and Welfare, while those aged 3 to 5 can attend kindergartens supervised by local education offices under the Ministry of Education.

Although children between the ages of 3 and 5 can attend different institutions, either care centers or kindergartens, they are all cared for under the Nuri programme, a state-run education program .

Previous governments tried to integrate the two institutions to provide more systematized education and care for children, but failed.

“I wouldn’t have broached the subject had it not been for the mutual grounds for agreement between the related parties,” Park said, implying that the Department of Education has reached a certain level of agreement with the Ministry of Health.

“The state has a responsibility to provide quality education at the right time to everyone,” she said.

In August, the Department of Education will announce a roadmap for developing talent fit for the digital age.

Nurturing talent for the Fourth Industrial Revolution is one of the major programs of the Yoon administration, including a campaign for the semiconductor industry.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Education announced its roadmap to train 150,000 people with expertise in the chip industry over the next 10 years, including lifting restrictions on student quotas. university students.

In order to support skilled workers for new technology markets, the Ministry of Education will hold regular meetings under the chairmanship of President Yoon.

By Im Eun-byel ([email protected])