SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Korea Bizwire) — Private institutes offering English language courses for preschoolers using the description “English kindergarten” may face punishment from the authorities, the Ministry of Education said Sunday.
Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae recently presided over the 16th meeting of the Education Trust Restoration Team to discuss punitive measures against private English language institutes posing as English kindergartens, according to the ministry.
In South Korea, kindergartens are defined as a type of school, but private education institutes are not.
Under the Enforcement Decree of the Early Childhood Education Act, a first-time offender accused of illegally calling itself an English kindergarten can be punished with a fine of 2 million won (US$1,712).
Penalties for second-time and third-time offenders increase to 3 million and 5 million won, respectively.
Participants in the meeting also discussed increasing the fines for private English language institutes for preschoolers that operate under the false name of English kindergarten.
“The Elementary and Secondary Education Act stipulates criminal punishment for non-school institutions using the title of school. As kindergartens are also a kind of school, relevant offenders should be punished equally. The ministry will push to revise the Early Childhood Education Act,” said a ministry official.
In South Korea, a growing number of parents enroll their preschoolers in private English language academies from early childhood in accordance with widespread enthusiasm for learning English.
Capitalizing on the foreign language boom, many private English language institutes illicitly advertise themselves as English kindergartens.