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February 2018

Korea suspends nursery English ban after parents’ outcry

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The Korean government has suspended its ban on afterschool English classes for preschool children after more than 8,000 parents signed a petition to the country’s president.

However, the government has announced further measures to stop licensed language schools, known as hog wan, from operating illegally as kindergartens, website Korea Bizwire reports.

The government is concerned that extracurricular courses put young children under stress.

A ban on afterschool English classes for primary children also remains in place. Following the announcement of the ban on December 28, parents complained that the move discriminated against working-class parents who could not afford the hog wan fees.

Korean preschools are mostly privately owned state-subsidised businesses, many of which offer cheap English language classes after school.

They employ tens of thousands of preschool English teachers, who were set to lose their jobs, according to the Korea Times. At a press conference announcing the temporary lifting of the ban, a spokesperson for the country’s education ministry said: ‘We will take more time and gather public opinion to come up with improved policies early next year.’

A ban on after-school classes for six-to-eight year-olds in state schools, however, comes into effect this month.

The crackdown on hog wan ‘kindergartens’ is also set to continue. Heavy fines for centres without a preschool licence are already in place and further measures are planned, the Korean Herald reports.

‘We will check the status quo and look into hog wan and their operating systems – the safety of the buildings, length of class and tuition. Our goal is to promote education that would reduce the stress and burden on the growing children and their parents,’ a ministry spokesperson said.

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