English-only preschools cost more than med­i­cal school

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Park Si-soo [email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

The av­er­age tu­ition for one year at an English-only kinder­gartens here is 11.59 mil­lion won ($9,660), nearly dou­ble the av­er­age tu­ition of do­mes­tic uni­ver­si­ties (6.71 mil­lion won) and even higher than that of med­i­cal schools (9.63 mil­lion won).

Nev­er­the­less their num­ber has in­creased by 41 per­cent over the past two years on the back of un­wa­ver­ing de­mand for early English ed­u­ca­tion for chil­dren among deep-pock­eted fam­i­lies.

While many of the kinder­gartens are in Seoul’s af­flu­ent Gang­nam area, those in In­cheon, Jeju Is­land and Bu­san also flour­ish.

Rep. Jun Hee-kyung of the main op­po­si­tion Lib­erty Party Korea re­vealed the data Tues­day. The law­maker said this in­di­cated the “English di­vide” be­tween the haves and have-nots was widen­ing in a coun­try where flu­ent English speak­ers still en­joy rel­a­tively high chances of a good ca­reer.

As of 2019, there are 558 English-only kinder­gartens across the coun­try, up from 474 in 2018, and their av­er­age monthly tu­ition fee was 966,000 won, up 66,000 won from last year. This is nearly six times higher than the av­er­age monthly tu­ition of or­di­nary kinder­gartens — 160,000 won.

“The govern­ment’s in­con­sis­tent (English ed­u­ca­tion) pol­icy can be blamed for this,” Jun said.

The govern­ment scrapped its plan to ban ex­tracur­ric­u­lar English ed­u­ca­tion at kinder­gartens last Oc­to­ber be­cause of crit­i­cism of mid- and low-in­come par­ents. Early this year, it also lifted a ban on English ed­u­ca­tion for first and sec­ond graders at el­e­men­tary schools.

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