Elementary school entry age will be advanced by one year from six to five beginning in 2025. The government will also push anew for a plan to merge kindergartens and daycare centers for children aged three to five. The education ministry reported this to President Yoon Suk-yeol on Friday.
According to the ministry on the day, the government will push to change the starting age for the 12-year compulsory education system comprising ‘six-years at elementary school, three years at middle school and three years at high school.’ “The government will advance the elementary school entry age in phases for four years from 2025,” Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs and Education Minister Park Soon-ae told a back briefing to the media before her briefing to the president.
Under the government plan, children born in January to March among those aged five will be eligible to enter elementary school in 2025. Then, children born in January to June among those aged five will enter the elementary school in 2026, and those born in January to September in 2027, while all children aged five will enter the elementary school in 2028.
If elementary school entry age is lowered as announced, the rule defining elementary entry age at six under the Education Act of 1949 will be revised for the first time in 76 years. The ministry will form and start operating a ‘taskforce on schooling system reform’ in August. The ministry will devise a draft plan to change the schooling system in the second half before the National Education Committee will start discussing the final execution plan for a new system from next year.
The ministry also reported to the president a plan to ‘merge kindergartens and daycare centers’ to combine kindergartens and daycare centers. It plans to prepare a plan to unify the system for managing kindergartens and daycare centers, before starting integration in 2024. Korea has been pushing for this measure since 1997 during the Kim Young-sam administration but has failed to implement it due to concerns and issues including distribution of power and authorities between ministries. “If we were to only discuss this measure (merger of kindergartens and daycare centers), we would not have suggested this in the first place,” Minister Park said, stressing her commitment to push ahead.
Meanwhile, autonomous private high schools and foreign language schools, which the previous Moon Jae-in administration decided to change to ordinary high schools by 2025, are set to face different fate. During the briefing to the president, the Education Ministry said it will keep autonomous private high schools intact, while transforming foreign language high schools into ordinary high schools.