The “Village Early-Education Centers” Project, which has now been operational for eight years, aims to improve the educational environment in rural areas, and particularly the low kindergarten enrolment of poor children. The project is sponsored by the China Development Research Foundation (CDRF, 中国发展研究基金会). By March this year, 874 kindergartens had been set up and 969 volunteer teachers had been recruited in 8 provinces and 14 counties. There are more than 22 thousand children currently studying in these kindergartens, and many children from poor, left-behind and single parent families have benefitted directly.
The project’s ultimate goal is to push the relevant authorities to take strong measures, including increasing educational inputs in poverty-stricken areas as well as providing free preschool education for about 18 million children from 3 to 5 years old in central and western villages. The project plan is that by 2020 the penetration rate of 3-year preschool education will reach 90%. Lu Mai, the general secretary of CDRF, claims that the foundation will keep on raising social funds and enlarging the scope of pilot projects in Xinjiang and Guizhou Provinces.