On June 1st, for China’s national holiday known as Children’s day, the Chinese government announced that they will adopt a “three-child policy”. This comes as an answer to the publication of the 7th national census released by the State Council Information Office. China had a fertility rate of just 1.3 children per woman in 2020, on par with ageing countries such as Japan. Before the Chinese government introduced three child policy, a fine of 130,000 yuan ($20,440) was imposed to parents that had 3 children.
Although this policy’s objective is to boost the natality rate in China, incentives such as lowering educational costs for families, stepping up tax and housing support, guaranteeing the legal interests of working women or clamping down on “sky-high” dowries, do not seem to be overly effective. After all these initiatives, may young couples in China do not seem too convinced to have a child. Raising a child in China is extremely costly, from housing, education to extracurricular activities. Early education in China is a growing market as more parents see the value of putting their kids in pre-school.
The basics of early education in China
Family expenditure on early education
Early education in China has two segments: kindergarten education and family education. The former is an institutionalized education and the later is an out-of-institution education.
Kindergartens in China are either publicly or privately held. In 2017, 55.9% of kindergartens were private comparing to 43.4% public kindergartens. Though public kindergartens are affordable they have limited seats available every year. Parents struggle to find kindergartens that are affordable. China’s kindergarten market reached 278.7 billion yuan in 2020.
‘Another option for early education in China are pre-schools, like kindergarten they are publicly or privately held.In some cases, the expenditure on preschool education accounts for more than 25% of the family’s annual income.
Barriers in the early education market
The early education system in China experience some problems, there is a lack of qualified teachers and infrastructures around the country and especially in rural areas.
According to the 2019 report of the Ministry of education of the People’s Republic of China, there was 266,677 kindergartens in China of which 82,608 run by the education department and 165,779 by non-government entities among other types of kindergartens.
Predictions showed that in 2018 there would be 270,000 kindergartens however the goal wasn’t achieved.
COVID-19 pushed early education online
It is not clear how COVID-19 has affected the early education market in China, however online content has developed quickly. At the beginning of the outbreak in 2020, the government asked the top three 5G carriers to invest 25.45 billion dollars in developing 5G infrastructure, which is five times higher than what they spent in 2019. Education was the third sector that received the most 5G applications amid COVID-19 after medical care and public security.
Although the pandemic has helped develop the development of online teaching content, integration of the Internet into the early education market, online and offline integration has become an on-going trend in the development of the early education market in China.