SEOUL, Oct. 10 (Korea Bizwire) — The proportion of children using national and public kindergartens and childcare centers is expected to hover below 40 percent, short of the government’s target, official data showed Wednesday.
President Moon Jae-in earlier set a goal to expand government support for parents with young children, vowing to more than triple the proportion of infants and toddlers looked after by publicly run centers within his term in office.
As part of the effort, the government increased the number of centers by 373 in 2017 and plans to build 450 new centers each year over the next four years. Moon’s single five-year term ends in May 2022.
The latest numbers, however, showed only 12.9 percent of those eligible using such facilities as of the end of 2017, with figures likely to go up to 15.4 percent in 2018 and reach around 18.3 percent in 2019. This is further estimated to rise to 21.1 percent in 2020, 24.2 percent in 2021 and 27.5 percent in 2022, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare data submitted to the National Assembly.
Noticeably, 257 newly established centers, or 32.9 percent of the total, were set up in Seoul over the past two years, the data showed.
Efforts to increase the number of children at public daycare centers is partly aimed at boosting the country’s low birthrate. About 27,000 babies were born in July, down 8.2 percent from the 29,400 tallied a year earlier and the lowest for any July since such figures began to be compiled in 1981, according to data from Statistics Korea.