Crackdown on English ‘kindergartens’ in South Korea begins
Little-known rule says that institutes that teach English can’t be legitimate
By Park Si-soo
The South Korean government has launched a nationwide crackdown on private English institutes for preschoolers that promote themselves as English-teaching “kindergartens.”
The education ministry recently sent a warning letter to popular online communities for parents of preschoolers. The ministry asked the parents to share the letter with English “kindergartens” and encourage them to change their signs to “language institute.”
Korean law does not allow English to be taught in kindergartens. This means that kindergartens teaching English are not genuine kindergartens, but private language institutes.
However, many language institutes promote themselves as “kindergartens” because it is easier to attract students.
This rule is still not known widely, so there have been many cases in which parents of children at English kindergartens have complained about not receiving state benefits given to parents of children at genuine kindergartens.
English kindergartens normally charge three or four times as much as genuine kindergartens. Nevertheless they are free from complicated management and hygiene rules that apply to genuine kindergartens.
The ministry said along with “kindergarten,” such institutes are not allowed to use “preschool,” “nursery school” and “kids school” on their signs or other promotional material.
Violators can be fined up to 5 million won (US$4,600) or forced to close if their violations are serious.