Education ministry to use extra budget to increase air cleaners in classrooms

SEOUL, The government's extra budget spending plan announced Wednesday will include increasing the number of air purifiers to be installed in elementary school classrooms to better protect young pupils against harmful fine dust pollution, officials said.

Officials at the Ministry of Education said it will also expand financial support for part-time lecturers in the humanities and social science fields to encourage their research activities.

The government proposed a 6.7 trillion-won (US$5.8 billion) extra budget on the day to cope with an economic slowdown and growing concern about unemployment and ultrafine dust.

According to the officials, the education ministry will spend an additional 11.5 billion won, on top of the already secured 21 billion won, to install air purifiers in all after-school child care classrooms at elementary schools nationwide this year.

An average of 3.3 million won will be allotted to each of the 3,484 after-school child care classrooms, which are now without indoor air cleaners, they explained.

The ministry's budget of 46.4 billion won needed to install air purifiers in all state-run elementary school classrooms will be increased by 2.9 billion won.

The cost of installing air cleaners in ordinary elementary school classrooms will be covered by respective metropolitan and provincial education offices.

Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae promised last month to install air purifiers at all kindergartens, elementary schools and special-education schools in the first half and at middle and high schools by year's end.

Government data showed a total of 114,000 classrooms are currently without an air-purifying device and metropolitan and provincial education offices plan to spend 130 billion won to install air cleaners at 64,000 of them this year.

The latest policy measures have been devised after the average concentration of harmful ultra fine particles in the air of Seoul reached the highest level last month since record-keeping began in 2015.

The ministry, meanwhile, will increase its budget of 161.7 billion won earmarked to support basic research activities by part-time lecturers in humanities and social sciences by 28 billion won.

It will also spend an additional 34.9 billion won to strengthen safety at laboratories of state-run universities.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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