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Preschool private education cost soars

South Korean parents spent 3.2 trillion won ($2.9 billion) on private education programs for their preschool children last year, a 22 percent increase from the previous year, a survey showed.

According to the report conducted by the Korea Institute of Childcare and Education, parents spent 515.7 billion won on infants aged 2 and under and 2.7 trillion won for children aged 3-5 to attend early education programs operated by private institutions or special classes held at kindergartens or day care centers. The report also showed that about 7 out of 10 children took extra classes, mostly English, at day care centers or kindergarten.

Nearly 95 percent of Korean households with children aged 3-5 said they used private education programs, the highest level of all age groups, the report said.

World Without Worries About Shadow Education, a civic group, said in its analysis of the survey the education market for the preschool group grew much faster than that of elementary and middle schools. The monthly tuition for private preschool education jumped 29,500 won to 108,400 won per child on average while elementary and middle school programs saw an average rise of 3,000 won per student over a year.

The rapid increase of private education costs for preschoolers reflects parents paying much more attention to early education than the past, the group claimed.

“The government should come up with a mitigating strategy to address the soaring cost of education for preschoolers,” said Yun Ji-hee, the head of the Seoul-based advocacy group. “We urge the government to review the education program for preschoolers. Before the kids enter (primary) school, for example, learning Korean should come before learning English,” Yun said.

By Yeo Jun-suk (