This paper reviews the Chinese government’s efforts and progress towards ensuring equitable access to quality early childhood education (ECE). It begins with an overview of the Chinese context and analysing the reasons for a policy focus on ECE in recent decades. Thereafter, from a historical perspective, it critically reviews policies pertaining to enhancing access to and the quality of ECE in China since 2010. Nationally representative data are used to document policy implementation. Our analyses of national policies and representative data suggest that the state considers ECE a public good. This is evident from policy changes, efforts to bridge urban–rural disparities, fiscal allocations to the most economically disadvantaged groups, and strategies to enhance the quality of ECE.A significant focus on policy implementation with improved regulation and monitoring of services provided by both state and non-state actors was found. However, it is evident that gaps persist between urban and rural areas regarding infrastructure and resourcing, gross enrolment rates, and teacher–child ratios. That stated, the momentum that has driven policy change and the dramatic gains demonstrates the priority accorded to ECE.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- early childhood education