ADB to Increase Access to High-Quality Early Childhood Education in Xi’an, PRC

ADB to Increase Access to High-Quality Early Childhood Education in Xi’an, PRC

News Release | 4 June 2021

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (4 June 2021) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of $150 million for a program to increase children’s equitable access to high-quality early childhood education in the city of Xi’an in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“Investing in early childhood education is both critical and cost-effective since it sets a strong foundation for learning and human capital development, which promotes economic growth and reduces inequality,” said ADB Principal Social Sector Specialist Karin Schelzig. “Taking a results-based approach, ADB is supporting the municipal government’s ambitious program to develop universal, affordable, safe, and high-quality preschool education in Xi’an, benefiting more than 514,000 children a year by 2025.”

Located in Shaanxi Province, the growing municipality of Xi’an is facing a major shortage of affordable kindergarten places, which threatens to widen the gaps in access and perpetuate inequality. Despite notable progress in expanding enrollment since 2010, an estimated 45% of Xi’an’s kindergarten-aged children (3–5 years old) were still unable to access public and affordable private kindergartens in 2019. Pronounced disparities in kindergarten quality persist, particularly evident between urban and rural areas of the municipality.

The ADB Shaanxi Xi’an Preschool Education Development Program will drive policy and system reforms aligned with the national early childhood education policy and the priorities and targets set out by the PRC’s 14th Five-Year Plan, 2021–2025.

The program will provide at least 50,000 new public kindergarten places across Xi’an’s 12 districts and two counties. It will upgrade at least 50 existing kindergartens to be more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, and supply better equipment with environmental protection labels to at least 200 kindergartens. To improve teaching capacity, the program will create at least 5,400 new jobs for teaching staff (the vast majority of whom are women), expand access to in-service training, and increase leadership roles. This will bring direct benefits to women through better jobs, higher status, and increased eligibility for promotion.

The program will also strengthen early childhood education financing, regulation, and supervision, including through an upgraded early childhood education smart management platform. It will introduce innovation by piloting professional learning communities and mentoring for teachers, introducing play-based learning reforms, providing resources and training for the inclusion of children with disabilities in 63 mainstream kindergartens, and demonstrating home–kindergarten partnerships in at least 200 kindergartens to expand parent and community engagement in their young children’s education and development. The program includes a strong focus on research and impact evaluation and aims at sharing knowledge widely, both within the PRC and in other ADB developing member countries.  

By the end of 2025, the program aims to have increased the share of children with access to public and affordable private kindergartens from 76% in 2019 to 85%, while achieving near-universal enrollment. It also aims to expand the share of kindergartens meeting the kindergarten quality rating system’s high-quality standards from 63% to 70%.

The total program cost is $2.23 billion, of which the government will provide $1.95 billion and households (through tuition and other fees for public kindergartens) will provide $121 million.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.