As the controversy over the introduction of the ‘five-year-old elementary school admission policy’ grew, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Park Soon-ae tried to appease the public sentiment by saying, “We will reach a social consensus with an open mind by involving many stakeholders to voice their opinions at the National Education Committee.” However, education-related groups criticized, saying, "There was no discussion or request to make proposals regarding the new policy within the education community."
Earlier in the Lee Myung-bak administration, an early admission to elementary school scheme was ultimately scrapped with a hasty, ‘announcement first discussion later move by the government’ as well. Accordingly, some point out that the current situation is déjà vu all over again in 13 years.
In November 2009, the Presidential Committee of Future Planning had proposed a plan to move up the elementary school admission age by one year as a measure to solve the low fertility issue. At that time, Kwak Seung-jun, chairman of the Future Planning Committee, appeared on a TV program and said, “Rather than combining two grades in one year, if 25 percent of the children with birthdays that fall roughly three months earlier than the admission age start elementary school over the next four years, this could alleviate all the low fertility related shocks.”
Following the announcement of the Future Planning Committee, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, which was the ministry in charge, hastily created an ‘Early Schooling Task Force’ and started reviewing the proposal. After a review period of about a year, the ministry decided in October 2010 not to pursue it further, because the early enrollment of five-year-olds would not be proven effective. Instead, in May 2011, the introduction of the ‘Nuri Curriculum,’ a general course for 5-year-olds, was announced.
At that time, the Future Planning Committee's announcement of a potential policy without discussion with the ministry or social consensus caused controversy over “abuse of authority.” It was said that the ministry received the information only one day before the committee's announcement. With Deputy Prime Minister Park asserting, following her report to the President Yoon Seok-yeol on Friday, "I had not discussed a plan for early admission to elementary school for 5-year-olds with local offices of education," there is a criticism that opinion collecting began only after the report was made.