SEOUL, Feb. 28 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korean plans to build 550 national and public kindergartens and childcare centers this year in line with ongoing efforts to boost the country’s low birthrate, the government said Thursday.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said it has decided to increase the number of new centers from 450, and set a target goal to increase the portion of children using such facilities to 40 percent of those eligible by 2021, a year earlier than the initial plan.
President Moon Jae-in earlier set a goal of expanding government support for parents with young children, vowing to more than triple the portion of infants and toddlers looked after by publicly run centers within his term, which ends in 2022.
Under the five-year plan, the government will also mandate businesses with more than 300 permanent employees to build a nursery center within the company building, officials said.
Currently, businesses with more than 500 permanent workers, and 300 female workers with permanent positions, are required to build such centers.
Efforts to increase the number of children at public daycare centers are partly aimed at boosting the country’s low birthrate.
The country’s total fertility rate hit a record low of 0.98 percent last year, data showed, a warning that Asia’s fourth-largest economy may face a population decline going forward.