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Gimpo proposes mandating notification on elementary school enrollment for foreign national children

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Children attend class at an elementary school in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province, in this undated photo provided by Gimpo City, Sunday. Courtesy of Gimpo City

Children attend class at an elementary school in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province, in this undated photo provided by Gimpo City, Sunday. Courtesy of Gimpo City

By Lee Hae-rin

Gimpo, west of Seoul in Gyeonggi Province, has proposed the central government mandate notifying parents of information regarding elementary school enrollment for their foreign national children in a bid to improve immigrants' lives here, according to the city government, Sunday.

In Korea, elementary and middle school education is compulsory by law, and the country issues school enrollment notifications for Korean school-age children. The notice informs parents of the schools to which their children have been assigned, as well as the dates of the preliminary call and the entrance ceremony.

Such letters are not sent to the parents of children of foreign nationals here, which the Gimpo city government sees as discrimination and an obstacle to immigrants' social integration.

This led the city government to suggest that education authorities inform foreign residents of their children's elementary school enrollment time and method.

The central government, however, dismissed the proposal for a long-term review, citing that foreign children are not subject to Korea's law on mandatory education and, as such, there is no particular government agency to handle the matter.

Still, Gimpo attempted to implement the immigration initiative on its own but again, faced obstacles due to a lack of a legal basis enabling the city government to acquire personal information of foreign children and their parents.

In response, last November, the city government requested the Personal Information Protection Commission to deliberate on the municipality's acquisition of personal information of foreign residents regarding the education of their children, which the commission approved.

Following this approval, the city plans to send letters of elementary school notification to the parents of school-age children of foreign nationality in Korean in the language of the parents' home country, beginning from the 2025 academic year.

"We will continue to push for policies based on respect and consideration to take the lead in boosting interculturalism here," Gimpo Mayor Kim Byung-soo said.

Gimpo is the chairing city of the country's multicultural city council.

Founded in November 2012, the council now has 26 member municipalities and discusses migration and social integration policies.

Since February last year, Gimpo has been proposing itself as the best candidate to house an immigration agency, considering its proximity and accessibility to Incheon and Gimpo international airports.

Lee Hae-rin


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