Nearly half of preschoolers in Korea are receiving private education, data from a state-run think-tank showed Monday in another testament to the ever-increasing education fever in the country.
According to a report by the Korea Institute of Child Care and Education, 31.6 percent of children under the age of 5 studied via workbooks while another 10.8 percent attended private education institutions. A little over 12 percent received education through private tutors and study groups.
The survey of parents of 3,630 children across the nation showed that 56.1 percent and 23.5 percent attended day-care centers and kindergartens, respectively, which were categorized as public education in this report, but many of these children attended other private institutes as well.
The KICCE report showed that Korean parents spent 4.95 trillion won ($4.86 billion) on educating and bringing up their children last year, which accounts for 0.39 percent of the GDP. Some 45.1 percent ― or 2.2 trillion won ― of this was spent in the private sector.
Parents spent a monthly average of 147,600 won per child, which increased gradually as children grew older. Around 49.2 percent of the respondents said they felt the hefty education fees were “too much to bear,” and among parents of 5-year-olds this rate stood at 57 percent.
In a bid to lift the heavy burden of tuition for education institutes, the government has expanded its free child care and education program. But while the number of children attending kindergarten-substitutes, such as day-care centers, has decreased, other forms of private education have increased.
Researchers have raised concerns that the rise in government subsidies may ultimately result in even greater dependence on private education.
“(The government) must lay the legal groundwork to regulate institutes for preschoolers. The parents must also change their perception of their children’s education,” said Yang Mi-seon, a participant in the study.
By Yoon Min-sik (firstname.lastname@example.org)