South Korea’s Ministry of Education will expand support for the education of children from low-income households to help bridge the gap between poor and wealthy, a government panel that deals with basic livelihood security policies said Monday.
According to the panel, the ministry is scheduled to increase its spending on elementary, middle and high school students from low-income households to help them purchase school supplies and materials beginning next year.
The Ministry of Education building in Sejong City, South Korea
Under the support program, the ministry will provide 66,000 won ($60) a year for elementary school students of low-income households as subsidies for purchasing school textbooks, and 50,000 won for school supplies.
The figure was 41,200 won this year for textbooks subsidies, while no subsidies were provided for elementary students to buy school supplies.
For middle and high school students, they will receive 162,000 won a year, a 70 percent increase from this year’s 95,300 won.
The ministry plans to roll out the new support package by the ministry next year, expecting to benefit about 380,000 students whose households make less than 2.26 million won a month.
At the high school level, the ministry will fully cover school and admissions fees for students from national and public schools as well as the cost of school supplies, the panel said. They now receive 1.52 million won a year from the government upon entering high school.
The ministry added that it would work closely with local governments to offer more educational opportunities for students from low-income households and cover their expenses, from field trips and extracurricular activities to school uniforms.
Monday’s announcement came after Education Minister Kim Sang-kon vowed to bring about equal opportunities for all students in education.
Here, households with monthly salaries of 7 million won or more spent 443,000 won a month on private education last year, according to the ministry’s data. The figure is nine times as much as families bringing in 1 million won or less.
More support for education is also part of the Moon administration’s efforts to focus on better social safety measures which were recently announced through its five-year policy road map. President Moon Jae-in promised to provide more child care support, focus on the welfare of the people and renovate the country’s disaster response system, including the reducing of energy dependence on nuclear power.
By Bak Se-hwan (firstname.lastname@example.org)