KICCE Policy Brief
[Issue 27] The integration policy of ECC and ECE in Korea
·The president of Korea declared that the integration policy of early childhood care and education (ECEC) was part of the new government’s national agenda that was planned for the president’s official term (2022–2027).
·Although ECEC overlap in the targeted ages of children (three to five) and have similar functions, they differ in many respects such as their service organizations, competent ministries, and teacher qualifications due to their historical and social foundations. This has a negative impact on social integration.
·From a governance and structural perspective, Korea’s early childhood education and childcare are dualized.3
·We can count several differences between early childhood education and care.
·The President included in his national agenda a plan to integrate ECEC to provide quality education opportunities for all children and reduce the burden of parental care. To this end, it was announced that related government ministries would jointly establish and operate the Taskforce on the Consolidation of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC TF), launch the Committee on the Consolidation of Early Childhood Education, and promote integration in stages.
·The fundamental need for ECEC integration is to ensure that no matter where education or care is received, whether kindergartens or childcare facilities, private or public, there will be no discrimination or difference in content, tuition , or environment, and that homogeneous and high-quality education and care will be provided.
·The government announced that at the end of 2023, all policy tasks related to early childhood education and care will be adjusted to be under the authority of the Ministry of Education, and the integration of ECEC will center on the Ministry. In 2023, ECEC TF was launched under the Ministry of Education and the Plan for the Integration of ECEC was announced on January 30, 2023. The implementation plan according to each stage by year is as follows.
·The first stage, set from 2023 to 2024, consists of pursuing tasks to reduce the gap and laying the foundation for integration.
·The second stage, starting in 2025, is the full-scale implementation stage of the integration of early childhood education and care, in which it is planned that existing kindergartens and daycare centers will be converted into “new integrated institutions.”
·As of September 2023, the government, related experts, and field officials are working on systems, facility environments, operations, cost support, and management systems to successfully achieve ECEC integration.