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Kindergarten strike plan revoked

Sept 18,2017
The Korea Kindergarten Association has revoked its plan to go on strike today and next week, bringing relief to hundreds of thousands of parents who were worried that they would have nowhere to drop their kids off in the morning.

In a press briefing held at the National Assembly in western Seoul on Sunday, the association apologized for causing national concern and said they decided to withdraw initial plans to shut down all private kindergartens today and from Sept. 25 to 29 after the Ministry of Education promised to acknowledge the group as its “policy partner” and carry out mutual agreements.

Two core demands from the association, which represents the country’s private kindergartens, were for the government to expand state subsidies for non-public institutes as promised, and for President Moon Jae-in to scrap an earlier pledge to establish more affordable public kindergartens.

Last Friday, the Education Ministry said it would “stringently” punish every private kindergarten that decides to join the strike, stressing that in the worst case, it could shut the institute down for good.

The Education Ministry’s tough stance worked, pressuring the Korea Kindergarten Association to give in to the government’s order.

By Saturday, 12 of the association’s 15 local branches, or 75 percent, said they would drop out of the strike. The rest - Busan, South Gyeongsang and North Jeolla - gave in by Sunday morning.

The head of an internal subgroup which planned the strike said he would step down from the position in the aftermath.

While addressing the issue last Friday in an urgent briefing, Vice Minister of Education Park Chun-ran said it was “extremely regretful” that the association was planning an “illegal” strike, and laid out alternative options that parents could use to take care of their children during the strike period. Among them were temporary classes in public kindergartens and elementary schools.

BY LEE GA-YOUNG, OH WON-SEOK [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]