preschool and kindergarten in china

The Kindergarten and Preschool Market in China: How much Chinese parents pay for early education

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The Preschool market in China reached 230 billion RMB in 2018 according to iimedia. In a culture that highly values education, drivers include the opening of the one child policy to two child policy, and the increasing ability of parents to afford pre-school. The government is also supportive of early education and has paid attention to the development of  kindergartens. In 2019, the State Department issued a policy to contribute to building and normalizing kindergartens in order to benefit children.

Preschool market scale in China from 2013 to 2018

[Data Source: iimedia “Preschool market scale in China from 2013 to 2018”]

Different types of preschools in China

There are two kinds of preschools in China, each with their different purposes. The combination of preschool and kindergarten contributes to children’s preparation for elementary schools.

Public kindergartens & preschools

Public kindergartens in China have two forms that are distinguished by organizers and funders. The first type is the government-built public preschools that gain funds from the government and are supervised by local governments. The other type is self-funded preschools that raise funds as enterprises and are managed by the local education department. These two kinds of kindergartens both play roles in benefiting people by charging low expenses, decreasing financial strain on families. These schools aim to help children prepare for elementary school, so teachers teach basic manners and knowledge. However, such preschools recruit limited students each year.

Private kindergartens & preschools

Unlike public preschools, private kindergartens created by privates aim to make a profit. Such preschools can be regarded as supplements to public preschools, allowing more students to attend preschools. Private kindergartens also have two types: ordinary and high-key. Ordinary private preschools aim to solve the difficulty of enrollment that many children face when trying to enroll in public preschools. The other kind is high-key preschools. High-key kindergartens usually hire foreigner teachers to teach students, allowing students to enjoy a bilingual environment from early childhood. Meanwhile, high-key preschools pay attention to children’s overall development. However, the expenses of private preschools are usually much higher than in public preschools.

Top 10 kindergartens in China

Preschool market scale in China from 2013 to 2018

[Source: eol “Top 10 kindergartens in China”]

Trends of the preschool market in China

As China’s economy expands, parents have more and more economic power to give their children a better education. Thus, many types of preschools have emerged.

International kindergartens are popular

Currently, parents are willing to send their children to international kindergartens. Such preschools hire foreign teachers to teach students. They not only teach from the textbook but also organize extracurricular activities like baking and scientific experiments. Although such schools cost upwards of 200,000 RMB per year, numerous parents still hope their children can enjoy high-quality educational resources. In Zhihu, a writer shared her daughter’s experience at an international kindergarten in Beijing. The international kindergarten helped children learn self-care. Children learn to make requests, ask for help, and express their own opinions.

Preschools plus the internet are in trend

As institutions benefit from increased digitalization, preschools utilize the internet to help manage and improve interactions among children, parents, and teachers. Children can use online platforms to obtain up-to-date information while interactive games help children learn in a fun way. Come Chinese parents are used not to being involved in their children’s kindergarten lives. However, those apps can allow them to know what their children learn in class as well as monitor their performance. Also, such platforms benefit kindergarten teachers. They can use online platforms to arrange courses and deal with educational administration.

preschool apps in China

[Source: Educlouds “Preschool apps help to teach”]

Many parents take their children to extracurricular preschools to avoid losing at the starting line

In addition to regular preschool classes, parents also send their children to various extracurricular preschools. Those parents believe that learning more after class can make their children more excellent. Children can consolidate the knowledge they gain at school. Additionally, they can learn many new skills outside regular classes. Codemao Kids, a programming learning website for children, enlightens kids through games, exercising their critical and creative abilities.

Issues of the preschool market in China

Although the preschool market in China has enjoyed success, it still faces some issues. Limited seats induce a competitive enrollment process, and bare teacher welfare makes the industry lack talented professionals. Also, occasional scandals trigger societal anger and disappointment in preschool education. These problems disturb the development of the preschool market in China.

Competitive enrollment

A limited numbers of kindergartens causes difficulty in enrollment. During the enrollment period every year, a competitive process unfolds at kindergartens. Parents stay up waiting in line to sign their children up. Limited quotas in those public schools and expensive tuition create a difficult situation for parents.

Parents stay up waiting in line for kindergarten recruitment

[Source: Shenzhen News “Parents stay up waiting in line for kindergarten recruitment”]

Lack of talented professionals

An increasing amount of children necessitates higher requirement of professional teachers. The Center For Education Policy of Southwest University estimated that China needed near 4 million professional kindergarten teachers in 2021, while the gap was 2 million. Kindergarten teachers can only earn a low income. Also, kindergarten teachers’ social status is low, so few people with higher degrees are willing to work as kindergarten teachers. Thus, it is hard to make up this gap in a short time.

Scandals spark the societal outrage

Abuse and bulling occasionally happens at kindergartens and causes tremendous harm to children’s physical and mental health. It also triggers society’s anger toward the management of kindergartens. In 2017, a case at RYB kindergarten child abuse shocked Chinese citizens. The kindergarten teacher, by the name of Liu, harmed four children, inducing mental harm on those children. Influenced by this case, the stock price of RYB slumped 38.41%. This event exposed the incomplete management of the kindergartens. It led to an appeal to strengthen management and train more highly qualified teachers.

scandals in preschools and kindergartens in China

[Source: Weibo People’s Daily “People express anger to child abuse”]

Uncertainty during the coronavirus outbreak

As older students in secondary schools can autonomously conduct e-learning during the quarantine period, it can be difficult for parents to navigate education for their little ones, in preschool especially. The main issues surrounding online teaching apps is that there is a lack of supervision, an improper learning atmosphere, and that teachers are unfamiliar with online learning. As it takes time for educational implementation and adaptation, preschools in China need to address potential concerns from parents, such as their decreased confidence in the schools’ handling of the initial outbreak and the transition to in-person classes as the situation eases.

The preschool market in China is bright

After evolving over the years, the preschool market in China has made significant progress in improving children’s education and enriching the content of kindergartens. Children are the future of a country, so preschool education is essential. Although the preschool market in China contains many difficulties, the market scale is continuously enlarging. With the development of more sound policies, the future of the preschool market in China is still promising.

After evolving over the years, the preschool market in China has made significant progress in improving children’s education and enriching the content of kindergartens. Children are the future of a country, so preschool education is essential. Although the preschool market in China contains many difficulties, the market scale is continuously enlarging. With the development of more sound policies, the future of the preschool market in China is still promising.


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