South Korea: Education Minister Calls For A Reduction In The School Starting Age

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The primary school age is to be reduced from six to five.

On Friday, the Minister of Education, Park Soon-ae, made the following statement: “The primary cause of social polarization is the education gap, so we will bring the school age forward by one year to enable the socially underprivileged to get access to mandatory education more quickly.”

Early school entry, according to the government, may close achievement gaps across regions and socioeconomic levels, allowing high school graduates to begin working one year sooner.

Since 1949, the legal age of entry into elementary school has been six, like in most other nations. The Education Ministry wants to conduct a statewide poll later this year in order to gather public feedback and develop concrete strategies for implementing the change by the end of the year.

Resistance, on the other hand, is to be anticipated. Relatively few children are being born nowadays, thus some people believe that a change is essential; nevertheless, others claim it overlooks contemporary child development phases.

“Any policy that ignores the developmental characteristics of children must be reconsidered,” said the Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations in a statement. Moreover, the National Association of Private Kindergartens said, “Due to the developmental characteristics of five-year-olds, entering elementary school at that age will expose them to an unsuitable environment and curriculum, robbing them of a proper childhood.”