In 2009, the China Development Research Foundation of the State Council launched the One Village One Preschool (OVOP) initiative which aims to guarantee free early childhood education (ECE) access to all young children in China. According to statistics in 2017, almost all children (98%) in urban areas have access to ECE while only 30% of children from poor and rural areas have the access. OVOP is a variously sourced funded program that encompasses facilities, teaching components, and policy and organizational operations, through which children of a village can access preschool education without spending hours of commuting time. Using students’ data during the years 2015 to 2018 from Songtao county in Guizhou, one of the poorest provinces in China, Chen and colleagues explored the effect of an ECE education experience on academic performance in grade 1 to grade 4. Five types of ECE education experiences were compared:
- Township public ECE centres: supported by public funds and usually with better quality and facilities
- Township private ECE centres
- 3-year OVOP ECE
- 2-year OVOP ECE
In general, students who went to public township kindergartens had the highest SES, followed by private township. The three other groups had a similar background with lowest SES. Multinomial propensity score matching was conducted to try to reduce selection bias. Academic achievement, which was measured by each school year’s total final test scores in Chinese, Mathematics and English, was compared.
By examining 1st grade exam results:
- Township public group scored the highest among five groups, followed by 3-year OVOP, 2-year OVOP, township private, and lastly no-ECE groups.
- No-ECE students scored significantly lower than the other four groups.
- There was no significant difference between 3-year OVOP and 2-year OVOP.
Concerning academic growth from grade 1 to grade 4:
- The 3-year OVOP group grew faster than the township public group and decreased their gap with that group from 0.14 SD (grade 1) to 0.05 SD by 4th grade.
- The 2-year OVOP group grew slower than the 3-year OVOP and tailed behind the 3-year OVOP from 0.02 SD (grade 1) to 0.18 SD by 4th grade.
In sum, the township public group consistently achieved the highest grade on average. The 3-year-OVOP and 2-year-OVOP groups started off at the same level at first year, however, the 3-year-OVOP group had a faster growth than the 2-year-OVOP so that the 2-year-OVOP lagged the 3-year-OVOP by almost 0.2 SD by 4th grade. Students with no-ECE consistently scored the lowest.
Authors concluded that 1 additional year of OVOP made a huge difference in student learning. While the 2-year-OVOP group did not catch up to the test scores of the 3-year-OVOP, the gap in academic performance between the latter group and township public was narrowed.
Source (Open Access): Chen, S., Zhao, C., Chen, C., Wu, Z., Snow, C. E., & Lu, M. (2022). Does One More Year Matter? Dosage Effect of the One-Village-One-Preschool Intervention in Rural China. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 1–26. https://doi.org/10.1080/19345747.2021.2006383