The ruling Grand National Party is reportedly pushing to further expand the scope of compulsory education to include children aged three to four, officials said Sunday, amid controversy over its populist policy approach to college tuition fee cuts.
“Expansion of childcare support is the next policy goal following the reduction of college education expenses. The party will push to gradually expand state financial support for the education of preschoolers,” said a senior party official.
In early May, the government announced a decision to fully cover preschool expenses for five-year-olds by 2016 as part of a campaign to help narrow the education gap between poor and wealthy students and to reduce household childcare burdens.
Ahn Hong-jun, a ranking policymaking official at the GNP, said his party will soon open discussions with the government about lowering the starting age of mandatory education to four, but predicted that the consultation with the finance ministry won’t be smooth due to the enormous fiscal burdens.
Currently, only children of low-income families receive a state subsidy of 177,000 won a month to defray educational expenses.
The government will gradually increase its support for all households who send their children to the preschool educational facilities.