South Korea’s private kindergartens said Sunday that they will stage a strike and hold a rally this week in protest against the government’s funding program.
According to the Education Ministry and the Korea Kindergarten Association, about 3,500 private kindergartens -- 83.3 percent of private kindergartens nationwide -- and some 30,000 industry workers and parents have agreed to participate in closing down their kindergartens on Thursday to join the rally at Seoul Plaza.
Children in a kindergarten in Seoul. Yonhap
Private kindergartens currently receive 310,000 ($264) in monthly subsidies, which is about 30 percent of the 980,000 won paid to public institutions.
Such unequal funding has also increased the burden for parents, who have to pay an average of 220,000 won a month to private kindergartens, while national and public kindergartens only require 10,000 won.
“Children and parents at private kindergartens have equal rights to receive educational and financial support from the government,” said KKA in a statement.
The number of children at private kindergartens currently stands at 520,000, more than triple that at national and public kindergartens, according to the KKA.
The Education Ministry, however, said the closing down kindergartens for a rally was unlawful, adding that the mass action could lead to sanctions.
“Though we agree on the need to increase financial support for private kindergartens so as to lessen parents’ burdens, solutions must be based on financial conditions and public opinion,” said an official.
Unauthorized mass demonstration may also infringe on the right of learning and thus result in administrative measures, such as restrictions in recruiting or disaccreditation, the official added.
By Kim Da-sol (firstname.lastname@example.org