Pathways to Universal High Quality Early Childhood Education: Lessons from China
Dr. Fan Xin, Sun Yat-Sen University
Professor Chris Nyland, Monash University
Professor Berenice Nyland, RMIT University
Dr. Long Yi, The University of Electronic Science and Technology of China
In this paper we ask why China’s government in 2010 unexpectedly committed to policies that within a decade increased public sector early childhood education provision, enrolled 85% of children and substantially raised preschool educators’ credentials. Scholars interested in this question emphasise the importance Chinese parents place on ECEC provision. We argue also of significance was the need to rebalance the accumulation of human and physical capital and that unbridled marketization was an ineffective pathway to universal high-quality ECEC provision. Empirical data prior to 2010 evidences there was a positive correlation between ECEC teacher quality and knowledge intensity in China’s provinces and a negative correlation between the marketization of regions and teacher credentials. We also draw on interviews with actors who helped construct the 2010 policy. Concluding discussion identifies implications for ECEC policy for middle-income countries.