Seoul President Yoon Focuses on Education Policies to Address Low Birthrate

SEOUL - President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea emphasized the importance of effectively implementing two key education policies as part of the strategy to address the nation's low birthrate. This call to action was made during the education ministry's briefing on its policy goals for 2024, highlighting the urgent need for education reforms to tackle significant social challenges.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the successful execution of these policies is crucial for reducing private education expenditures and coping with the low birthrate issue. The first of these policies involves the expansion of after-school care services for first graders in elementary schools. Following a successful pilot run in 459 schools last year, the government plans to extend this program to all elementary schools nationwide starting in the second semester. The after-school care service offers first graders access to care and educational programs from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., should they choose to participate. The education ministry anticipates over 270,000 students applying for these after-school services in the coming semester.

Another significant policy goal is the transfer of responsibilities for early childhood care from the health ministry to the education ministry. This shift aims to provide an integrated service for early childhood education and care, centralizing the care and education services for children under the age of 5, which are currently divided among various government ministries. The government plans to finalize this transition by June, making the education ministry the central authority for early childhood education and care.

This focus on education reform comes as South Korea continues to grapple with chronically low birth rates, exacerbated by economic uncertainties and soaring property costs, which discourage many young people from having children.

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