Education

Education is every child’s right and one that paves the way to a successful and productive future.

A girl attends a Social and Emotional Learning class at a school in Cangyuan, Yunnan Province, in 2018.
UNICEF/China/2018/Sun Peng

Challenges

Nearly 99 per cent of 6 to 12-year-olds are enrolled in school, but barriers remain that impede children from transitioning successfully into secondary school and learning the life skills they need.

The Government of China provides nine years of free compulsory education for all. This is an important first step towards children realising their right to a quality education, but not all girls and boys are receiving a quality education.

More specifically,

  • Not all children are growing up in a stimulating environment. Not all parents and caregivers have the support they need to provide a caring, playful and nurturing environment. This is more often seen among children from rural, remote areas and migrant families.
  • Many teachers lack the knowledge and skills to fully develop a child’s potential, and many kindergarten curriculums do not include health and play activities that are important for a child’s overall development.
  • Not all children are receiving the same quality of education, and curriculums often overlook the importance of social and emotional skills and the value of art and physical education. Access to a high-quality education is especially lacking for children living in rural areas.
  • Adolescent children -- many of whom are going through major physical, cognitive, emotional and social change -- are not learning the skills they need to transition from childhood to adulthood, and from school to the workplace and into society.

Solutions

UNICEF is working to ensure that all children thrive and have their right to quality education realized – from early learning opportunities that lay the groundwork for success in school, all the way through to secondary school and beyond.

UNICEF works with the Government of China and our partners, communities and parents, to provide the country’s most disadvantaged children with learning opportunities that will change their lives. We help to strengthen China’s education system, so that it addresses the needs of the most excluded and vulnerable children, including those with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and rural and urban poor, while ensuring that girls and boys have the same opportunities. We also promote nurturing environments that ensure that children develop into well-rounded individuals, by meeting their physical, cognitive, creative and social and emotional needs.

  • We help pilot centres across China where parents, caregivers and children come together and experience high quality age-appropriate early-learning, receive information about child development, and learn the parenting skills needed to raise healthy and happy children. UNICEF’s community-based models and findings are helping to inform national policy reform.
  • We are working with the Ministry of Education and other partners to develop new legislation and policy to expand public funding for education. We are developing guidelines for teaching professionals that embody holistic teaching and learning. And we have pilot projects to test innovative and practical models to support the Government of China implement education policies and standards.
  • We support the Ministry of Education to deliver child-friendly, equitable and quality basic education, particularly for rural children in China, by improving teaching quality and children’s social-emotional learning and by creating a safe and supportive learning environment. We also find ways to measure whether schools are offering quality education that includes creative learning, problem-solving and sports.

We are providing gender-sensitive life-skills education for in-school and out-of-school adolescents in pilot sites across the country and developing a 21st century skills-oriented vocational education curriculum for adolescents.