On Monday, legislators of the People’s Republic of China commenced the deliberation of a preschool education law aimed at ensuring accessible preschool education for all children.
The draft legislation was presented to the legislators for discussion during the current session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. The Minister of Education of China highlighted issues such as the difficulty of enrolling children into kindergartens due to exorbitant fees, which are unaffordable for the majority of China’s population.
The proposed legislation underscores the pivotal role of the government in establishing a comprehensive system of state-sponsored preschool services encompassing both urban and rural areas. To facilitate equitable and rational allocation of educational resources, the draft specifies that local governments must narrow the educational disparities in preschool education between different regions.
The draft legislation envisions the creation of a financial assistance system for preschoolers from low-income families, while also mandating the inclusion of children with disabilities who are capable of adapting to the kindergarten environment. Meanwhile, as per the proposed bill, the government is tasked with directing non-governmental organizations to contribute accessible resources for preschool education. Additionally, social capital will not be permitted to exert control over state kindergartens or non-profit private kindergartens through business mechanisms such as mergers or acquisitions.
The draft underscores the government’s obligation to invest more in preschool education and elevate teacher training. It further specifies that kindergartens must accord paramount attention to ensuring the safety of children.
The project prohibits preschool educational institutions from conducting any forms of testing on children, except for necessary medical examinations. It also forbids burdening children with elements of primary school curricula. While this issue had been previously raised, routine implementation of this practice persists in Chinese preschool education to this day.
This state support is associated with the low birth rate in China. In 2016, the government announced the end of the “one-child policy.” However, significant population growth has yet to materialize. According to surveys, over half of all parents did not plan to have a second child due to concerns about their financial capacity to care for them.