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Private education fees for preschoolers, kindergarteners up 38%: study

Parents who distrust government's policies tend to spend more on private education, report suggests

By Park Jun-hee

Published : Sept. 17, 2023 - 14:31

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Private education spending among households with preschoolers or kindergarteners has increased by 38 percent in the last five years, a report showed Sunday.

According to a report published by Kim Hye-ja, a researcher at the Korean Educational Development Institute, on the relationship between social awareness and educational expenses, the average spending on private education for preschoolers and kindergarteners jumped from 162,000 won ($121.71) in 2018 to 224,000 won in 2022, up 38.3 percent throughout the period.

Preschoolers and kindergarteners in Korea refer to children aged 3-6.

The report found that households in the lowest 20 percent income brackets spent 160,000 won, while those in the highest 20 percent quintile spent nearly double -- 301,000 won -- to provide private education to their preschool and kindergarten-age children.

In another part of the study using regression analysis, Kim found that parents with a negative perception of income inequality and the government’s role in educational policies were inclined to spend more on private education. Similarly, parents who distrust politicians, civil servants and the media also tended to spend more on private education, according to the study.

On the other hand, parents who find individual responsibility more essential than relying on the government’s efforts are likely to spend less money on their children’s private education.

Kim noted that government policymakers should take into account the complex reasons behind parents spending more on their children's education outside of the public education system, rather than solely focusing on the amount of money spent as the rationale for policies aimed at reducing private education expenses.

“The (current) private education monitoring system solely focuses on how much each household spends on their child (for private education) rather than taking into account the various aspects of why they are spending money on private education,” Kim said.

“A comprehensive system that can analyze various factors (on why households spend on private education), such as social changes and one’s perception and attitudes toward society, are needed.”