Early childhood policy and preschool quality: Lessons from diverse Chinese contexts

5th June 2019 : 17:00 - 18:30

Category: Seminar

Speaker: Professor Nirmala Rao (Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong)

Location: Seminar Room J, Bruner Building C, Department of Education

Government educational policy sets benchmarks for preschool quality and a large body of research from developed and developing countries indicates that there is a positive relation between preschool quality and child outcomes.

This paper will consider relations among educational policy, preschool structural and process quality and early child development in Hong Kong and Mainland China, highlighting conceptual and methodological issues surrounding the measurement of quality in varied cultural contexts. It will (i) illustrate how the increased focus on both quality and equity of access to quality in government policy has led to enhanced preschool structural quality in Hong Kong and in Mainland China; and (ii) highlight cohort differences in observed preschool quality and early childhood development.  Drawing upon decades of empirical research, studies from Hong Kong will show how preschool quality mediates socioeconomic gaps in school readiness while research conducted in China will be used to illustrate both the relation between preschool quality and child development over time and secular trends in early child development.

Nirmala Rao is Serena H.C. Yang Professor in Early Childhood Development and Education, Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong.  A Developmental and Chartered (Educational) Psychologist by training, she has been recognised internationally for her research on early childhood development and education in the Asia-Pacific. Her research has been funded by research grants organisations, governments, international developmental agencies and non-governmental organisations. Professor Rao has published widely and serves on the Editorial Board for several journals.  She has participated in international meetings as an expert and undertaken consultancies for UNICEF, UNESCO, the World Bank and DFID.  She has also had significant administrative leadership roles at the Faculty of Education and at the Graduate School of The University of Hong Kong.


In 2019, the University of Oxford’s Department of Education celebrates the 100th year since the passing of a statute creating what was known in 1919 as the University Department for the Training of Teachers. To celebrate our centenary a year-long series of activities will be delivered to address some of the department’s top initiatives for 2019, answer some of the big questions facing education today and to reveal the advancements the department has made to the study of and research in the field of education. Join us as we mark our 100th year and discover more about our anniversary here.

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