South Korea’s education minister resigns amid furore over plan to lower school age

South Korea’s education minister tendered his resignation on Monday following backlash against proposed school policy changes that included lowering the entry age for elementary schools.

Education Minister Park Soon-ae stepped down after a 34-day tenure, just two weeks after the education ministry announced it would lower the primary school entry age to five by 2025 based on social consensus.

“All my recent policies have been in the interests of our people,” Park said at a press conference. Korea Times report. “But clearly I fell short of expectations.”

Former President Park was criticized for announcing policy proposals without seeking public opinion. The public also opposed her plan to abolish foreign language high schools.

Lowering the primary school age is aimed at increasing the working population in South Korea, where the birthrate is declining, so that students can graduate early and start their careers.

However, teachers and parents oppose the move over concerns that it will send children who are not intellectually ready to school.

The proposed policy brought 36 civil society groups together in front of the president’s office to demand its abolition. They have also launched an online petition to gather signatures from citizens in support of reversing the policy.

One civic group argued that it was “inappropriate” to require five-year-olds to attend primary school given the degree of “cognitive and emotional development” of young children.

“It can also have negative side effects, such as accelerating the starting age for college admissions and competition for private education,” the group said.

Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare hints at withdrawal of policy

Undersecretary of Education Jang Sang-yoon said on Tuesday There is a possibility that the lowering of the elementary school age will be canceled because it is “realistically difficult to promote” due to public distrust.

“At this location, it’s hard to say that we’re going to scrap it and no longer promote it. .

This extra year of early childhood education is part of a policy proposed by the United Nations. 2030 Sustainable Development GoalsIt encourages countries to provide children with “at least one year of free and compulsory quality pre-primary education”.

In June, Australia’s states of Victoria and New South Wales implemented another year of ‘play-based learning’ for young children as part of what the prime minister called “the biggest transformation of early education for a generation.” .

Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews and New South Wales Prime Minister Dominic Perrotet announced their “commitment to long-term policies” in a joint statement, saying the move would benefit many working families. .

Aldogra Fredry


Aldgra Fredly is a Malaysia-based freelance writer covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.