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4-Year-Olds Face High Competition to Enter Kindergarten

Posted October. 09, 2010 10:34,   


A housewife in Busan was surprised after making a telephone inquiry about enrolling her three-year-old daughter at a kindergarten. She was told that enrollment for next year was full, with more than 100 people on the waiting list.

The head of a kindergarten in southern Seoul said, “The number of enrollment inquiries has increased significantly. Other kindergarten heads say the same thing.”

Most inquiries are on kindergarten admission policies for next year and how parents can put their children on waiting lists.

○ Enrollment war

The kindergarten enrollment war for children born in 2007, or the auspicious “year of the golden pig” under the Chinese zodiac, has begun. Parents of children born that year project high competition as a social trend for “baby boomers” to go through.

Under law, children ages 3 to 5 are eligible for enrollment in kindergarten. Most children begin elementary school at age 8, so next year is ideal for kindergarten enrollment since those born in 2007 will turn four.

According to Statistics Korea, about 448,000 children were born in 2007, around 45,000 more than in 2006 and 28,000 more than in 2008. In 2007, the total fertility rate was 1.25, with South Jeolla Province showing the highest rate of 1.58. The rate in Busan has stayed below one since 2002, though it rose to 1.02 in 2007.

Due to the relatively high birth rate in 2007, getting children enrolled in kindergarten, particularly those affiliated with universities or with high reputations, will not be easy. In highly competitive areas such as the Gangnam district in southern Seoul, many parents are expected to wait overnight for enrollment.

○ The challenge of baby boomers

A kindergarten established by Ewha Womans University in Seoul will admit new students in early December after posting a notice on its Internet homepage. In the event of too many applicants, the kindergarten will select preschoolers through a lottery.

The head of a kindergarten in Gwangju said priority admission will go to siblings of existing kindergarteners and children of alumni or those of employees before taking applications in early December. Another kindergarten in Busan will open two more classes to accept more kindergarteners.

Disgruntled parents have filed complaints with their education offices. The Seongnam Office of Education asked kindergartens to select new students via open lottery rather than on a first-come, first-served basis.

The head of a kindergarten in Busan said a kindergarten association in the city will take applications from Dec. 1. The association will also hold a public lecture for 3,000 parents on the importance of preschool education.

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