A press conference held by the Ministry of Education on April 18 announced that the Chinese central government had increased funding for preschool education from 15 billion yuan in 2018 to 16.85 billion yuan in 2019. The Ministry of Education and the National Development and Reform Commission also earmarked 1 billion yuan to support 11 provinces to promote the development of public interest kindergartens.
It is planned that by 2020 the coverage rate of public interest kindergartens should reach 80%. Local governments nationwide have adopted a variety of measures to achieve this goal. For example:
- Beijing government optimized the available land or vacant sites to build or expand kindergartens, and provided support to government-sponsored institutions and community-level organizations to open kindergartens. 30,000 school places were created in 2018, and another 30,000 school places will be created in 2019.
- lHebei government put forward a plan to ensure that each township should have at least one high-quality public kindergarten, while large villages with populations of over 3,000 inhabitants should have at least one qualified public kindergarten.
- Tianjin government planned to build or expand 150 kindergartens and create 40,000 school places in 2019.
- Shandong Province planned to build or expand 2,000 kindergartens per year and create over 500,000 school places from 2018 to 2020.
- Henan Province planned to build or expand 1,000 kindergartens and create over 100,000 new school places in 2019.
- Sichuan Province invested 3.59 billion yuan to build 878 kindergartens and create 129,000 school places in 2018, and planned to invest 4.4 billion yuan to build a further 838 kindergartens and create 134,000 school places in 2019.
Meanwhile, local governments have taken measures to increase the number of preschool teachers. For example, Shandong Province increased its teaching body by over 6,000 and Guizhou Province increased nearly 5,000 full-time public kindergarten teachers in 2018.
According to Lv Yugang, Director-General of the Department of Basic Education of the Ministry of Education, 30 provinces passed budget plans for government expenditure that included public kindergartens. In Beijing, the level of government expenditure and tuition fees for all kinds of public interest kindergartens are the same. In Shandong Province and Chongqing City, government expenditure on public interest kindergarten per children is 710 yuan per year and 600-800 yuan per year, respectively.Lv said in the next step efforts would be made to formulate substantial implementation plans and put forward more supporting policies, aimed at increasing public access to affordable preschool education.