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Early childhood education urgently to be improved

(CRI Online)

09:40, May 23, 2013

According to statistics from the China Development Research Foundation, an estimated 8.5 million children aged from three to five live in villages in Western China, and only 30 percent of them ever get admitted to kindergartens. Therefore, these children lag behind their urban counterparts in many aspects, such as language skills and developing social skills. Expert suggest the country pay more attention to early childhood education in rural western regions.

Aged about six, Yelijiang is the oldest kindergarten student in a village in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. He did not receive any preschool education until three months ago.

Recently, he has just learned how to recognize colors and items through pictures. However, for children in cities, these skills are what they have already learned at four years old.

Nuerguli is his teacher. She says the boy has improved a lot over the past three months in kindergarten.

"When he entered the kindergarten, he seemed to know nothing, even he got no idea about toy. All he did at that time was sitting there and he looked scared."

His teacher says when Yelijiang was enrolled three years ago, he often wet his pants, as he had no idea how to tell his teachers when he wanted to go to the bathroom.

Although Yelijiang started his preschool education late than his peers in cities, he is still one of these lucky children who got the chance of an early childhood education. There are large numbers of children in China's west region who can not access preschool education.

And studies show that children in China's rural west lag behind their urban counterparts in language skills and social networking.

Some early childhood education expert says a person's brain grow fastest in infant period. If a person's intelligence grows up to 100 percent at 17 years old, they can get 50 percent of their intelligence at four years old. Therefore, early childhood education for children is very important.

Lu Mai, general secretary of China Development Research Foundation explains.

"For children at one to four years old, it's a crucial period to develop their brain, as well as their language skills, cognition and social networking, also during this period, their capabilities to recognize colors and numbers also grow very fast. Receiving no timely preschool education during this period will be unfavorable to the future development of the children."

Lu Mai says location and family income are the two major factors that determine children's early education level in China. And having all children accessed early childhood education will help narrow the gap between rich and poor as well as deal with unfair income distribution across the nation.

"If we really consider children our future, we must know children cannot afford the delay of early education. Without improving early education in these remote areas, 3 to 4 million children across the nation will miss the crucial period of growth each year. Timely early education may stop poverty from passing down through generations."

Some experts suggest the government increase financial support children aged from 3 to 5 in West China's rural areas to receive early childhood education.

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