A kindergarten is a school established and operated to provide education to children of ages 3 and above, until they enter elementary school. The purpose of a kindergarten curriculum is to inculcate the basic concepts of a democratic society by developing the physical and mental health as well as social skills of children aged between 3 and 5. The Nuri curriculum for those children consists of five subjects: physical exercise & personal hygiene, communication & language skills, social skills & etiquette, artistic expression, and nature inquiry/appreciation.
As of now, no fewer than 91,195 children are enrolled in the 884 kindergartens within the jurisdiction of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.
Kindergartens are working hard to keep parents satisfied and the children happy through various kinds of curriculums and activities.
In particular, we are promoting a holistic education of children and helping parents concentrate on their jobs and housework through our ‘Educare’ program that provides quality education and childcare as well as equal education opportunities at the start of life by providing financial support. We are also reinforcing the responsibility of the state for early childhood education by working to reduce parents’ burden of educational expenses through a variety of measures and initiatives.
Elementary education is free and compulsory. Children, in principle, attend elementary schools starting at age 6, and elementary school must be completed in 6 years. With the current enrollment ratio at 91.8% (based on April 1, 2014 statistics), we can say that almost all children attend elementary school.
Children aged 5 can enter elementary school if they are thought to have the ability to learn within the capacity of the school. Currently, 457,600 students (as of April 1, 2014) are attending about 600 elementary schools in Seoul. For the purpose of providing the most basic primary education necessary for the general public, the elementary school education consists of subjects such as Korean, social studies/ethics, mathematics, science/practical arts, physical education, art (music, fine arts), English, and ‘creative experiential activities.’ However, the curriculums for 1st and 2nd graders are Korean, mathematics, “disciplined life, wise life and pleasant life.”
According to the School Autonomy Policy based on the 2009 Revised Curriculum of Schools, each school is officially allowed a certain leeway to develop their own curriculum (around 20%). Thus, many are taking into consideration the particular circumstances and conditions of their school and the needs of the local community to flexibly establish and operate curriculums to create a distinguished school culture.