KDI FOCUS Improving Elementary Childcare System in Women’s Growing Economic Participation 2021.06.17
□ Despite women's growing economic participation, female employment rates vary considerably across age groups. Women in their 30~40s exhibit the lowest rates, mainly due to the lack of policy support targeting women with dependent children in elementary school. The Korean government has sought to address this by expanding public childcare, but problems like childcare void and high dependence on private education persist. Amid rising social demands for childcare services, taking policy actions to enhance the quality and quantity of public childcare and overhaul its legal framework is of vital importance and requires immediate attention.
- By design, Korean childcare support policy mainly targets younger children, and the relative shortage of elementary childcare services is a hurdle to economic activity for women with dependent children in elementary school.
- Policy efforts for better elementary childcare services are vital to properly respond to women’s growing economic participation
- As elementary childcare classes focus on caring and after-school programs on learning, educational benefits among students differ.
- So far, Korea has no clear policy direction for childcare and a fragile legal foundation for elementary childcare services.
- It is important to figure out why participation in private education rapidly rises after 3 p.m. while it is low in elementary childcare classes.
- Suppose short regular school hours are extended to equip better schools as care providers and induce students to sue public childcare after dismissal. In addition to solving the lack of childcare, it may be possible to reduce dependence on private education with additional educational opportunities.
- If the discussion on increasing regular class hours is to focus on resolving the childcare gap, there should be an in-depth analysis of the use of after-school hours.
- Childcare policies in major countries have progressed in the direction of incorporating learning from supporting child's wellbeing.
- Korea’s care policy needs a proper legal basis and social consensus among stakeholders.
- When children attend elementary childcare classes, mothers are 7.8%p more likely to participate in economic activity and work for extra 4.7 hours per week on average, while they are 8.5%p less likely to use private education.
- On the other hand, among the users of afterschool programs, no statistically significant effects were observed in terms of women’s economic participation, working hours, and the use of private institutes.
- Extended hours of the regular curriculum may not deter the use of private institutes.
- In order to achieve the intended effect of longer regular school hours, authorities need to take policy actions for a significant quality upgrade of school childcare services.
- The function of care services needs to be redefined by establishing a legal basis for operating elementary childcare classes and after-school programs within the Framework Act on Education and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
- Elementary childare services need to stay open for longer hours and more applicants.
- Elementary childcare services need a quality upgrade.
- The approach of strengthening the childcare function of schools by increasing the regular school hours needs to be considered in connection with the current care policy.
Ⅱ. Status and Problem of Elementary Childcare Services
Ⅲ. Roles and Direction of Elementary School Care Services
Ⅳ. Conclusion and Policy Suggestions
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