Seoul office to cancel its kindergarten penalty plan

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Seoul office to cancel its kindergarten penalty plan

The Seoul educational authority said Friday it would drop its original plan to levy a penalty on parents who fail to follow its new kindergarten application guidelines, citing administrative difficulties in canceling their children’s admission.

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education’s most recent announcement comes a month after Seoul’s kindergartens finalized their enrollments for 2015, and two months after the city said it would overhaul the application procedure for the city’s kindergartens.

Those reforms, initially relayed by Seoul Superintendent Cho Hee-yeon, drew immediate backlash from parents and kindergartens, due largely to the short notice and the inconveniences it was expected to trigger.

Seoul’s education office previously said it would place a cap on the number of institutes for which parents could apply, and cancel admissions at whichever institution the child was accepted if parents disregarded that rule.

That plan was ditched Thursday by authorities, however, who said in a statement: “After a comprehensive review on how the cancellation will affect children, parents and the normal operations of the new semester, the office has decided not to apply the measure.”

The office formerly ordered kindergartens to submit their entire list of applicants, the applicants’ birthdays and the names of their guardians when the admission process wraps up, saying they would filter out violators.

But that “process turned out to be difficult,” according to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, which added that kindergartens had also expressed concerns that canceling admissions for some children would disrupt the system.

“We deeply apologize for causing disorder in kindergarten admissions,” the press release said. “In 2016, we will cooperate with the public and draw up reform measures centered on consumers.”

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said late last year it would divide Seoul’s private kindergartens into A, B and C divisions, and its public kindergartens into A and B divisions. Before the new measures were introduced, kindergarten-age children could apply for as many private and public kindergartens as they wished. If the number of candidates outnumbered the available slots - often the case at popular schools - the kindergartens would make their decisions through a lottery.

The dates for the lotteries, according to the new divisions, were on Dec. 4 for private kindergarten group A; Dec. 5 for private kindergarten group B; Dec. 10 for private kindergarten group C; Dec. 10 for public kindergarten group A; and Dec. 12 for public kindergarten group B.

Parents could apply to only one institute for each date, with a maximum of four applications: private kindergarten group A; private kindergarten group B; public kindergarten group B; and a choice between private kindergarten group C and public kindergarten group A. BY

LEE SUNG-EUN [selee@joongang.co.kr]


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