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Presidential committee mulls raising class hours for primary school students: official

The presidential committee on tackling low birth rate is considering raising school hours for elementary school students to reduce the childcare burden on double income parents, a committee official said Friday.

"We are focusing on resolving the burden of parents taking care of elementary school students," the official said, noting "We've not yet resolved the low childbirth rate issue, although we've presented a variety of measures to tackle the matter."

First and second grade elementary school students spend an average of 2.93 hours in class every day, third and fourth graders study 3.47 hours on average per day, and fifth and sixth graders do 3.87 hours, according to government statistics.


Average daily school hours for primary schools in some other countries are 4.9 hours in the United States, 4.8 hours in France and 4.67 hours in Britain.

Unlike children aged five or under, who are taught at kindergartens or nursery schools until 6 p.m. or later with financial support from the government, elementary school students return home early in the afternoon.

Confronted with this situation, many women quit their jobs to take care of children who come home early. This has been cited as one cause of the country's low birthrate.

An education ministry official, however, reacted negatively to moves to keep children at school for longer hours.

"I understand other government agencies are considering such as a measure, but it will be difficult for our ministry to consider that kind of policy change," the official said. (Yonhap)