China to further boost preschool education

By Xu Xiaoxuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, March 7, 2021
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Parents show children how to use farm tools at a kindergarten in Nantong city, east China's Jiangsu province, Mar. 3, 2021. [Photo/VCG]

China will further boost preschool education this year, according to the government work report submitted on Friday for deliberation at the fourth session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC).

The report reads that efforts will be made to raise the preschool enrollment ratio, improve the mechanism to support public-interest preschool education, and support the private sector's involvement in running kindergartens.

China has a good foundation to further advance preschool education this year, the first year of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), as the country has made great gains in this regard during the past five years. 

Data from the Ministry of Education shows that in 2020, the total number of kindergartens nationwide and children enrolled totaled 291,700 and about 48.18 million, respectively, up 30% and 13% from 2015. Privately-run non-profit kindergartens registered a coverage rate of 84.74%, an increase of 17.5 percentage points over 2016. 

To boost preschool education, the central government has set up a special fund and invested more than 80 billion yuan to encourage localities to develop public and privately-run non-profit kindergartens, so as to foster a well-balanced network of preschool education services that covers both urban and rural areas.

Building new kindergartens enables more children to be enrolled, while building them near communities can offer kids more convenient access to preschool education. 

Kindergartens near urban communities are an important public service. However, due to the supervision deficiency, there were insufficient or no preschools close to the communities, and some preschools, if any, were misused for other purposes. 

In 2019, under the arrangements of the State Council, the Ministry of Education, together with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and other departments, began to tackle the above problems and rectify kindergartens one by one, making sure that preschools near communities, both public or privately-run, are in the public interest.

Kindergarten tuition fees are also a concern in the development of preschool education. Lower and affordable tuition fees are what the parents need. 

During the past five years, a number of measures have been adopted to make sure preschool tuition fees are more affordable, such as establishing financial support systems, forming dynamic adjustment mechanisms for charging and providing financial aid for children from families in financial difficulties.

For instance, Nanjing, a city in China's Jiangsu province, required last year that the maximum fees charged by privately-run non-profit kindergartens must not exceed 50% of the fees of similar public kindergartens. Meanwhile, every student in privately-run non-profit kindergartens can get an annual subsidy of 2,200 yuan.

The NPC, China's national legislature, opened its annual session on Friday and the session is scheduled to conclude on March 11.

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