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China Orders Private Kindergartens To Be Handed Over To Local Authorities

(source: www.gov.cn) 

On January 22 the General Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China (PRC) issued a notice stating that private kindergartens in urban residential communities must all be handed over to local education authorities to be turned into public or non-profit kindergartens.

China currently has a system in which public kindergartens, which are run by local authorities and use material provided by the government, compete with private ones, which enjoy a certain independence and can choose their own textbooks. 

Over the past two decades private kindergartens have become a booming business. According to Beijing-based business consultancy ResearchInChina, between 2003 and 2015 private kindergartens grew from 55,000 to 143,000, while only 15,000 public kindergartens were opened during the same period. From 1997 to 2017, the number of children attending public kindergartens decreased from 95% to 44%.

However, in recent years the government has launched a crackdown on private kindergartens. Stocks of Chinese private education companies plunged in November 2018 when Beijing unveiled new rules that prohibit companies from financing for-profit kindergartens via the equity market. This was a sign of things to come. 

The State Council's note states that the new policy is guided by "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" (习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想), and the "spirit of the 2nd and 3rd plenum of the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party" (党的十九大和十九届二中、三中全会精神), signalling the authorities' intent to tighten ideological control over education. 

Local authorities will have time until the end of April to conduct a "thorough investigation" of private kindergartens. 

According to the Global Times, a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, the purpose of the policy is to solve the problem of the disproportionate distribution of kindergartens. 

However, the move by the Chinese government is widely seen as an attempt to spread Party ideology more effectively among children. 

"Public kindergartens turn children into machines," the head of a private kindergarten told NTDTV. "They put the children on an assembly line and make them all the same. You have to be loyal to the Party! They don't care about individuality, they care about thought control."

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