Cleaning up day careAt the beginning of Participatory Government, President Roh Moo-hyun was fond of grandiose statements like, “If only couples give birth to more babies, the nation will be responsible for bringing them up.”
However, fewer people feel that there has been a remarkable increase in the funds to develop the nation’s nursery system. Such failure is mainly due to ill-advised nursery policies. Rather than giving direct aid to parents, the administration offered funds to child care facilities.
Admittedly, new day care centers are mushrooming due to showering of subsidies, whereas the establishment of more state-run day care centers, for which parents and children are on long waiting lists, is comparatively snail-paced.
A public pledge that the government is responsible for raising children is a typical deception used by politicians. The next administration is supposed to overhaul the paradigm of nursery policies across the board.
The government should be at the forefront of offering reasonable and high-quality education to children in rural, low-income and disabled families in close cooperation with national nursery facilities.
This might be possible if the government strives to raise the proportion of state-run day care centers among all day care centers from 5 percent at least 30 percent.
In addition, the implementation of nursery policies should be prioritized and strategic. For example, more support should be given to children in two-income families than for children from families where one parent stays home. This will maximize the use of limited funds. Treatment of teachers at day care centers are treated should also be improved to attract better candidates and take the day care industry to a whole new level.
Freeing up day care payment systems from government subsidies should be considered more than anything else. Unless market principles are introduced to private day care facilities, which make up 90 percent of all childcare facilities, the government cannot satisfy the needs of parents, who hope to receive nursery services of a high standard.
Although some voice concerns over increasing day care fees, many parents are already spending huge amounts of money so their children can receive private tutoring and take part in extracurricular activities.
Presidential hopefuls should not spread populist messages to win votes. We all know that children are our future and will be the growth engine that leads the nation into the future.