Gov’t plan to lower school entry age faces strong backlash

Gov’t plan to lower school entry age faces strong backlash

Students attend class at an elementary school in eastern Seoul’s Gwangjin District, May 2. Joint Press Corps

Education ministry seeks to lower admission age to 5 from current 6

By Lee Hyo-jin

Gov’t plan to lower school entry age faces strong backlash

The government’s plan to lower the primary school entry age from 6 to 5 by 2025 has sparked heated debate among teachers, parents and civil society groups.

At a policy briefing to President Yoon Seok-yeol on Friday, Education Minister Park Sun-ae said her education ministry aims to lower the school age to her five years old, which will allow children to start a year earlier than her.

He said the goal was to enable public education to begin. Reduce the burden of educational expenses on parents.
The Ministry of Education also believed that the school age change would help address the labor shortage in the face of a rapidly declining birthrate and aging population.

Education officials said in September she will begin a survey of 20,000 students and parents to gather opinions. Once social consensus is reached, we aim to gradually expand enrollment to 5-year-olds by 2025 and fully implement the new system by 2029.

President Yoon Suk-yeol, right, receives a policy briefing from Education Minister Park Soon-ae at the presidential office in Seoul, July 29. Courtesy of presidential office

If implemented, it will be the first time in 76 years since the Education Law was enacted in 1949 that the age for entering elementary school will be reformed. Currently, children enter elementary school on March 1st of the year following their 6th birthday.

More opposition than support

This proposal quickly became the focus of public debate. Proponents of the plan said, “We believe that saving grades will help the country deal with labor shortages, but opposition is predominant among teachers.

Living in Yangchun District, southwestern Seoul Lee, an elementary school teacher in her thirties, said she didn’t understand the benefits of attending school when her child was young.

“In my experience, many first graders (6 years old) go to school. I find it difficult to adapt. I will not only keep up with the lessons, but also teach toilet training and feeding guidance. For a five-year-old, it will be much more difficult,” she told the Korea Times.

The Korean Teachers Association, which represents about 130,000 school teachers nationwide, said, It looks like they haven’t,” he denounced the government’s decision.

“School-age reform will require not only the necessary resources, but also a huge financial commitment to increase the number of teachers,” it said in a statement. Similar proposals were made by the Park Geun-hye administration, but they all failed and only caused confusion.”

The criticism also came from the teacher. “The government made a sudden announcement without talking to parents, teachers and other stakeholders or conducting a thorough investigation into the policy,” the National Association of Private Kindergartens said in a statement.

The Association called sending a five-year-old child to school “ridiculous.” Because they currently make up 40 to 50 percent of all kindergarten children.

In an online forum for mothers, commonly known as the “mother cafe,” many are concerned that registering a child who is not ready to go to school will only make it harder for the child to deal with. I have stated.

Gov’t plan to lower school entry age faces strong backlash

OECD countries

The ideal age to start school varies by country, but in most OECD countries it is 6 years old.
According to the 2019 OECD Education at a Glance (EAG), children in 26 countries from 38 member states are eligible to start the first year of compulsory education at the age of six.

Eight countries, including Finland and Estonia, start school at the age of seven, while some countries, such as Ireland and the United Kingdom, enroll children as young as four in primary school.


Credit/Source : KoreaTimes

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