S. Korea to integrate administration of nurseries, kindergartens

Jun 28, 2024, 11:05 am

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AsiaToday reporter Park Ji-sook

All infants and young children aged up to 5 will be guaranteed 12 hours of care per day.

Free education and child care for 3- to 5-year-olds will be realized in stages. The government has unveiled an action plan to integrate early childhood education and childcare on Thursday.

Education Minister Lee Ju-ho announced the integrated system of education and childcare, at the Government Complex Seoul. To reverse the declining birthrate, the government believes it is crucial to create a trustworthy environment for parents to leave their children in daycare facilities, and is determined to implement consistent policies by integrating the current dual system, where educational offices managed kindergartens while local governments were responsible for nurseries.

The Ministry of Education will push for improving education and childcare services of kindergartens and nurseries through the tentatively named “Early Childhood School Pilot Project” by selecting 100 institutions for the pilot project in the second half this year before launching the integrated system. The government will guarantee 12 hours of care per day for infants and toddlers aged up to 5. The teacher-to-infant ratio will be improved for more personalized care and education. For infants under a year old, the caregiver-to-child ration will be reduced from one-to-three to one-to-two. For children aged three to five years, the ratio will be improved from an average of one-to-12 to one-to-eight.

It also plans to provide educational support tailored to the developmental stages of infants and toddlers. It plans to provide a unified curriculum for children from birth to age five. It will also provide free education and childcare for 5 year-olds in 2025, and expand the support gradually for 3 to 5 year-olds by 2027. 

The education ministry plans to finalize the integration plan by the end of this year, and push for the enactment of the integration law next year. If the integration bill is approved next year, integrated institutions are expected to be set up in 2026.

#kindergartens #nurseries #integrate #birthrate 
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