The Chinese government will begin working on a draft law to regulate preschool education in the country, a sector whose boom has raised concerns among the public. The process will be overseen by the present Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) and will be initiated in the five years starting from 2018.
Accroding to Xinhua news agency, NPC deputy Li Lihua who was familiar with the legislation said the need to “draft such a law has become pressing”. He said the new law would address all sorts of problems facing the pre-school education sector at the moment.
China so far has specific laws governing elementary and higher education, but none for preschool education sector, with calls for such a law for the preschool sector mounting in recent times, just as the sector saw unprecedented grown.
Last year, the nation was rocked when teachers at kindergarten were accused of abusing children at a kindergarten in Beijing. The kindergarten involved was a run by RYB Education, a New York-listed education chain that is well known in China. The allegedly abused children were reportedly given pills, pierced with needles, forced to strip naked, and could have even be possibly sexually molested. Later, the Chinese government pledged stiffer oversight of preschools and preschool teachers.
According to estimates, there are nearly 255,000 kindergartens across the country and have 46 million children enrolled. However, these numbers are likely to go up as Chinese authorities aim at raising the gross national kindergarten enrollment rate from the current 75 percent to 85 percent by 2020.
Chinese Education Minister Chen Baosheng said in March that the preschool education faced numerous problems, including a shortage of quality teaching staff, safety issues, outdated teaching methods and high costs. “It is the fastest growing sector but also the one with the weakest link,” Chen had said.
The Xinhua said the Ministry of Education had called on local education departments to push for the legislation, which would define the duties of government departments and help them enforce stricter measures on kindergarten operators.
Although the problems are not as worse here, the preschool education sector in Pakistan is also replete with problems, especially that of exorbitant fees and low quality teachers. There are even some mainstream schools that run their own kindergartens and these very schools refuse to induct students other than those who have received their pre-schooling from their own kindergartens. This forces parents to get their kids enrolled in recommended kindergartens, which in turn sometimes charge fees for nursery and playgroups that are much higher than those charged for A level studies.
It’s an important issue that needs due attention from the government. And since Pakistan is so keen on getting assistance from China on all fronts, the education departments concerned must also take a cue from China and look into this very exploitation of parents in the name of quality education and regulate preschool education across Pakistan.