South Korea: Education Minister Resigns In The Wake Of Opposition To School-Starting-Age Policy

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In the wake of criticism over her plan to decrease the minimum age for entering elementary school, South Korea’s education minister said on Monday that she would be resigning from her position, marking yet another personnel loss for President Yoon Suk-yeol, whose support rating has plummeted in recent months.

The resignation of Minister Park Soon-ae comes two weeks after the Ministry of Education announced that it would move the age of compulsory school attendance up by one year, to five, commencing as early as 2025, provided the proposal receives widespread popular approval. The strategy’s stated goal was to increase the available workforce by encouraging individuals to finish their education sooner.

The idea has been met with opposition from parents and teachers in South Korea, who rallied in front of the presidential office last week to demand that it be scrapped on the grounds that children at such a young age are not developmentally ready for school and that the proposed shift would make it more difficult to secure child care.

Yoon’s approval ratings have dropped to 24%, the lowest since he entered office in May, according to the latest survey by pollster Gallup Korea on Friday. This is the lowest rating he has had since he assumed office.

The respondents’ primary complaint about Yoon was his choice of staff members. His lack of knowledge and qualifications was also a big deal, as was the fact that he made decisions without much thought or planning.