December 29, 2017 11:16
The Education Ministry on Thursday bowed to a public outcry and reversed plans to ban English language education in kindergartens and childcare centers.
The ministry said Thursday, a day after announcing the measure, that "no decisions have been made" and that it would "listen to the opinions of the public."
Regional governments were in disarray because they had already notified kindergartens and childcare centers that no more English was to be taught after hours.
One official at the Korea Kindergarten Association said, "The government pushed ahead with the measure without listening to our views. It looks like it pursued the plan without considering how many children will be affected."
Websites were inundated with complaints on Thursday. The ministry's plan was to crack down on overburdening small children with extracurricular study, which is endemic in Korea, and make sure they learn their own language. But critics said the plan would inevitably backfire and drive people into the arms of expensive private crammers.
"I've decided to send my child to an English crammer regardless of the cost," wrote one commenter. "I'll probably have to get a moonlighting job."
Some 4,000 people signed a petition on the Cheong Wa Dae website urging the government to scrap the plan.
English-language classes remain banned in regular hours, which usually end at 1 p.m., but most of the country's 50,000 kindergartens and daycare centers teach English after hours instead.
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