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California Democrats begin fight for free preschool

By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - A proposal to offer free preschool to all California 4-year-olds faces its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday with strong support from majority Democrats' liberal wing but skepticism from Governor Jerry Brown that could doom its chances this year. The $1.5 billion program is being pushed hard by the state senate's Democratic leader, Darrell Steinberg, who is leaving office at the end of this year and views it as key to his legacy in the most populous U.S. state.

Apps thrill toddlers as Swedish schools go digital

Two-year-old Mia traces out a letter on the screen with her forefinger, then claps with joy when the computer chants "wonderful!" and emits a slightly metallic round of applause. The preschool group at Tanto International School in central Stockholm is just getting used to a new batch of iPads -- one for every two children -- and it's a noisy, chatty affair. "They really enjoy playing this app. It's really good for learning pronunciation," said their teacher Helena Bergstrand.

Nursery schools' opening to be pushed back due to construction delay

The opening of nursery schools originally scheduled for April, the start of the new business year, is set to be postponed in a number of Japanese municipalities due to construction delays caused by labor shortages and surges in building material costs, local governments say. The planned delay of day-care centers opening in Tokyo, Chiba, Osaka, Shiga and Fukuoka prefectures is expected to affect parents hoping to return to their workplace after taking child care leave.

Manitoba has lots of research on all-day kindergarten but still isn't funding it

WINNIPEG - The Manitoba government is resisting calls to fund all-day kindergarten despite a push from school trustees and more than a decade's worth of largely supportive research compiled by its own staff. Documents obtained by The Canadian Press through freedom-of-information laws show the NDP has been building a file on all-day kindergarten since first being elected almost 15 years ago. The research shows children in all-day kindergarten have better language, social and communication skills.

When 6 years is still too early; German parents delay school

"He needed an extra year to play and grow," Cathrin Wesenberg said of her son Ole. While parents elsewhere are often accused of pushing their children, she is part of a trend in Germany to defer the start of school. Ole was due to begin shortly before turning six but, said his mother, "he wasn't at all able to look after himself, he got easily frustrated if he couldn't do something.... He still needed a bit of time." He stayed in kindergarten a year longer which was the right decision, Wesenberg said. "It turned out as we expected. Now he feels fine at school," she told AFP.

S. Korea in serious shortage of national, public kindergartens

SEOUL, Sept. 30 (Yonhap) -- The country is facing a serious shortage of national and public kindergartens due to insufficient state funding to expand eduction facilities for preschoolers, data showed Monday. According to the data compiled by Rep. Ahn Min-suk of the main opposition Democratic Party, 1.4 million children reached the age of entering preschool as of early this year, far more than the current 4,552 national and public kindergartens can accommodate.

Private kindergartens 14 times more expensive than public ones: data

SEOUL, Sept. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's private kindergartens on average are 14 times more expensive than public ones, government data showed Sunday. The Ministry of Education on Sunday released financial figures on three national, 4,516 public and 4,040 private kindergartens. They are available on the ministry's website on kindergarten information, at e-childschoolinfo.moe.go.kr. According to the website, the average monthly education cost for children aged five or older amounted to 191,737 won (US$172) at private kindergartens, compared to 13,285 won at public ones.

Gov't to include Korean history in college entrance exam

SEOUL, Aug. 27 (Yonhap) -- Korean history will regain its status as a required subject for the national college entrance exam for the first time in 24 years beginning in 2017 as part of the government's efforts to strengthen history education, the education ministry said Tuesday. The announcement came as the government and the ruling Saenuri Party recently agreed to include the subject on the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), which all high school seniors are required to take in order to attend college.

Mexico tightens education standards

Mexico City, Jun 11 (EFE).- All pre-university education is now compulsory in Mexico, the government said. Education was compulsory until now only to the middle school level, but it is now being expanded through high school, the last educational level before students enter a university. Modifications to six articles and two additions to the General Education Law were published in the Official Daily of the Federation by the Education Secretariat. The government is now required to offer teaching until the high school level or its equivalent at public schools.

Kindergarten teachers to face stronger punishment for child abuse

SEOUL, May 30 (Yonhap) -- Kindergarten teachers who are caught abusing children will face stronger punishment such as a 10-year ban on establishing or working at childcare centers, the ruling party said Thursday. The measures, announced by the government earlier this month, plan to be introduced into law before the end of this year, the Saenuri Party said in a press release following a meeting with relevant government officials. The current punishment for child abuse is a maximum three-year ban on establishing or working at childcare centers.
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