China could consider moving toward integrated early childhood development services for all covering prenatal services to services for 0-3 year olds, 3-6 year olds and even aligning with primary school education, and developing related policies and measures, advises a World Bank report.
After achieving nearly universal 9-year basic education, China is increasingly emphasizing policy development and service delivery in early childhood education. A bilingual report titled Challenges and Opportunities: Early Childhood Education in Yunnan, recently published by the World Bank in collaboration with Yunnan Department of Education, has analyzed the key challenges and proposed policy interventions for expanding the coverage and improving the quality of early childhood education particularly in the rural areas.
Globally and scientifically, there is consensus that early childhood development is one of the most effective measures in alleviating poverty as well as in improving economic competitiveness and labor productivity. More and more countries are prioritizing early childhood education on the national development agenda, said Xiaoyan Liang, World Bank Senior Education Specialist and lead author of the report. In China, the demand for education is particularly strong. Even though early childhood education is not yet part of the compulsory education, government still has a critical and important role to play in ensuring access to and quality of early childhood education particular for the disadvantaged population, she added.
The report presents findings from five interrelated studies: (i) a survey of existing early childhood development policies and institutions in Yunnan and China; (ii) the financing of preschool education; (iii) a household survey of a representative sample of 3-to 6-year-olds in rural Yunnan; (iv) a survey of preschool quality in Kunming using the internationally recognized Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale - Revised for Pre-Schools scale; and (iv) a comprehensive study of preschool teachers covering qualifications, career development, working conditions and salaries, as well as demand and supply.