China to further support preschool development

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China will work to further expand the availability of public-interest preschool education, whilst also encouraging, supporting and regulating the participation of the private sector, according to a draft of the country’s proposed preschool education law.

The draft was unveiled on Sept. 7 to solicit public opinion, following Chinese lawmakers’ call for the improvement of preschool education.

The proposed law specifies that governments at all levels shall provide good preschool education resources to children by building public kindergartens or supporting private ones. The education of preschool children from families with financial difficulties or impoverished areas shall be a priority.

A nationwide financial assistance scheme will be established to provide free access to early childhood education to orphans, de facto orphans, children living in difficult financial circumstances, and children with disabilities.

In addition, these development efforts will be included in the country’s overall planning of public management and public service facilities in urban and rural areas.

The draft also suggests that other public institutions work to create a favorable social environment for early childhood learning. Public museums, libraries, galleries, and sci-tech museums shall open to preschool children for free or with discounts, it says.

Statistics show that the Chinese central government’s fiscal input for preschool education has been rising over the past few years, reaching 15 billion yuan in 2018 and 16.85 billion yuan in 2019.

Cities across China have also been making efforts to make early childhood education resources available to all preschool children. Beijing, for instance, has increased its preschool admission quota by 30,000 this year. Over 80% of kindergartens in Beijing are of the public-interest type; this meets the State Council’s 2020 target, set in November 2018. 

Shanghai has also established a basic public service system for early childhood education. Currently, 71.5% of preschool children in the city attend public kindergartens.

Likewise, Shenzhen has been increasing its public budget in the sector: it rose from 2.08 billion yuan in early 2018 to 7.21 billion yuan this year, which is annual growth of 86.28%. The city government also issues 1,500 yuan of subsidies to each preschool child, which can be used for health checks, purchases of books and toys, or tuition fee deduction.

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