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Lowering of School Entry Age to 5 Mulled

Posted November. 26, 2009 09:03,   


The government seeks to lower the age of school entry by a year to encourage people to have more children.

Also under consideration are incentives to households having three or more children, such as giving the third child and beyond extra credit for college entrance and employment and financial support for high school and college.

The Presidential Council for Future and Vision presented yesterday a plan to shore up the country’s declining birth rate at a meeting chaired by President Lee Myung-bak.

Warning that the country’s fertility rate, the world’s lowest at 1.22, could further drop to one or below due to the economic crisis, the council suggested reducing the burden of childrearing, creating an environment where women can better balance work and family, and raise the number of Korean nationals through a revised immigration policy.

Considering the rapid development of young children, the council is pushing to lower school entry age to five and allocate financial resources saved from the change for young children. Extension of the retirement age for parents with three or more children is also being reviewed.

To increase the number of Korean nationals, the council is also mulling allowing dual citizenship and attracting talented people from overseas through an open immigration policy.

To allow more women to work, the council said the government should encourage male workers to take paternity leave and offer incentives to companies that help pregnant workers and female staff with children.

Also suggested were an anti-abortion campaign and measures to eliminate prejudice against single mothers.

On the lowering of school entry age, the Education, Science and Technology Ministry said, “We will review such measures with all options open from the mid-and long term perspective.”

Council chairman Kwak Seung-joon said, “Lowering the school entry age is necessary to enhance national competitiveness through early labor input. I hope this will be gradually implemented while President Lee is in office.”

On raising the retirement age for parents with three or more children, he said, “State-owned companies can implement this measure first and private companies can follow.”

Wrapping up the meeting, President Lee stressed the urgent need for raising the low birth rate, saying, “Drafting measures to tackle the low birth rate should not take long,” adding, “All government organizations should unite and take bold action to meet this challenge.”