The Cabinet on Tuesday decided to gradually increase the age at which children start school to six following research indicating that it is more difficult for younger children to adjust to primary school.
According to the education ministry, as of the 2020-2021 school year children entering first grade must be five years and 10 months old, two months older than the current age threshold.
As of the school year 2021-2022, first graders must be six by September 1 of each school year to be admitted to primary school.
The age for children starting the compulsory year of preschool will change in a similar, so by 2021 they must be five.
Increasing the admission age to the first grade, the education ministry said, has been the main suggestion of the committee of experts on school success and the promotion of literacy in public schools.
The move is part of efforts to improve and upgrade the educational system in the best interest of pupils, the ministry said.
“A series of research data, both international and local, and the experience of teachers and parents leads to that at the age of five years and eight months, which is the admission age to primary school, some children, mainly boys, are cognitively and emotionally too immature to follow the primary school curriculum,” the ministry said.
The change will yield multiple benefits for pupils, the ministry said, as raising the age threshold will enable children to attend both preschool and primary school with greater learning and emotional readiness and maturity.
“This will help them to more effectively follow the curriculum, which will be enriched to give children new learning experiences. This change is also one of the preventive measures that can be adopted so that the rates of students with a high probability of remaining linguistically and mathematically illiterate are reduced,” the education ministry said.