South Korean government may delay ban on teaching English to preschoolers
Thousands have signed a petition against the move and criticised the country’s education ministry for pressuring politicians
By Jung Min-ho
The government may put off its plan to ban English education for preschoolers due to fierce opposition from teachers and parents.
The Ministry of Education told The Korea Times Wednesday that it is considering putting off the implementation of the policy until the beginning of next year.
This move came after many people protested against the policy over the past few weeks. On the Cheong Wa Dae website, more than 7,000 people signed a petition; some have criticised the ministry by pressuring politicians.
But the ministry made it clear that the policy will stand. As announced, the policy will come into force in March for first and second graders at all elementary schools across the country. The ministry was going to apply the policy also to 50,000 kindergartens and day-care centres early this year.
The policy has raised concerns especially among English teachers. About 7,000 after-school English teachers at elementary schools will lose their jobs in March. Tens of thousands more teachers are expected to meet the same fate when the policy expands to kindergartens and day-care centres later.
Given that almost all kindergartens and day-care centres are funded partly or entirely by the government, there will be few exceptions.
Many parents criticise the ministry for pushing children to more expensive private institutes for English education. As demand for early English education remains strong, many parents think the policy is nothing but subsidy cuts. They say the policy will only deepen English gap between children.
On the other hand, the policy is expected to be a major business opportunity for owners of hagwons, private academies, who are looking to absorb the education demand.
The ministry said it will collect more opinions before making a decision over whether to put off the policy at the end of this month.