ADB to Support Early Childhood Education in Municipality in PRC

New Delhi: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $100 million loan to support the reform and development of early childhood education (ECE) in Shangrao Municipality in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The program is the first loan to comprehensively support a municipal ECE program and ADB’s third results-based lending program in the PRC’s education sector.

“Access to quality ECE is limited in Shangrao, particularly in rural areas and for disadvantaged children,” said ADB Senior Education Specialist Asako Maruyama. “Although high-quality ECE brings social and economic benefits, especially to disadvantaged children, and reduces intergenerational inequality and poverty, such gains remain unrealized due to limited access to quality ECE.”

Shangrao is a poor, rural municipality of Jiangxi Province, with mountains and hills accounting for 75% of its total land area. Households bear the cost of ECE in the form of tuition and other fees regardless of whether ECE provision is public or private. This discourages low-income families from enrolling children in ECE. The program aims to increase the total number of children receiving quality 3-year ECE in Shangrao Municipality, which lags in the national ECE goals.

The ECE system in Shangrao suffers from a severe shortage of qualified ECE teachers and staff. Stimulating learning environments rich in ECE support and resources are often absent in rural areas. ECE teachers and staff are not always well prepared to interact with children in meaningful ways and to improve children’s learning and developmental outcomes. Systematic ECE quality assessment and monitoring, including on the quality of ECE staff–child interactions, is not currently conducted.

Aside from increasing provision of affordable 3-year ECE in Shangrao, the program aims to establish systems for preparation and professional development of ECE teachers, principals, and childcare staff. This will include the development of competency frameworks for ECE teachers, principals, and childcare staff. The program will also develop models and mechanisms for improving the quality of ECE and strengthen systems for assessing, monitoring, and ensuring quality.

The program is a result of ADB’s operational and knowledge work in the PRC’s education sector for more than 25 years. ADB will support the development and regional sharing of knowledge, models, and practices under the program using various knowledge platforms.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.