Park will extend day care for kids in school to 10 p.m.

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Park will extend day care for kids in school to 10 p.m.

Under the incoming Park Geun-hye administration, schools will offer day care services for parents - and night-care too.

Starting from March, all elementary schools nationwide will take care of kids of working parents until 10 p.m.

Dinner will be provided too.

“Many people are welcoming this plan,” a member of the inner circle of the transition team told the JoongAng Ilbo. “There has already been a wide consensus over this program. There’s no reason to drag this out.”

Currently, most elementary schools run after-school activities for students until 5 p.m., which cost about 20,000 won ($18) to 100,000 won per month.

Under Park’s plan, children can stay at school until 10 p.m. if their parents are too busy to take care of them. The plan is targeted at families with single parents who work or with two working parents.

“Education is an important issue for Park that she has put emphasis on economic democratization,” another official on the team said. “The late-night child care can be carried out by simply extending hours at facilities that are already being used for after-school activities.

“All the preparations can be finished by February so that the plan can be started in March, when the spring semester begins.”

Park promised the plan during the presidential campaign to help parents who are paying for expensive private day care centers.

When she announced her platform on education on Nov. 21, Park publicly said she will “offer free after-school activities program until 5 p.m.” and “free night-care programs until 10 p.m.”

The ruling Saenuri Party estimates approximately 160,000 students attending elementary schools will use the program. The party calculates it will cost 1.7 trillion won. The transition team said the cost is not a problem. When legislators passed this year’s budget, the ruling party added a clause in a local education law that states “when carrying out the budget plan for local education, day care programs for elementary school students should be extended.”

The ruling party allocated about 41 trillion won in the local education budget, which was a 6.8 percent increase from 2012.

The transition team is also proposing a scheme to reform the public education system, which will ameliorate the cutthroat competition among students to enter elite universities.

Park said during the campaign that she will “form a vocational ability standard” that will enable graduating students to get jobs even without top academic achievements.

“We will not only normalize public education but also reinforce vocational education,” an official at the transition team said. “A comprehensive road map will come out to not only bolster the academic ability of students, but also develop their vocational talent.”

By Heo Jin, Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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