English-only preschools cost more than medical school
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.