BEIJING, April 18 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese central government has increased financial input for preschool education from 15 billion yuan (2.2 billion U.S. dollars) in 2018 to 16.85 billion yuan in 2019, the Ministry of Education said Thursday.
One billion yuan will be allocated to expand the building of kindergartens in the country's 11 provincial-level regions in 2019, Lyu Yugang, an official with the ministry, said at a press conference.
Meanwhile, local governments have taken effective measures to increase public access to affordable preschool education.
Authorities in Sichuan spent 3.59 billion yuan on building 878 new kindergartens in 2018, enlarging the number of preschool enrollments by 129,000. The local government plans to invest 4.4 billion yuan on 838 new preschools and offer school admissions to 134,000 more children in 2019.
In Beijing, there is still a gap in preschool supply as the demand keeps rising, particularly after the country lifted its one-child policy, said Feng Hongrong, with the Beijing Municipal Education Commission.
To meet the public need for preschool education, Beijing has taken steps to expand kindergartens, and encourage communities, state-owned enterprises and public institutions such as universities to run their own kindergartens.
With 1,657 kindergartens citywide, Beijing currently has about 450,000 preschoolers, with 283,200 in public schools, accounting for 63 percent of the total, and the remaining 166,800 are in private kindergartens. In 2019, the local government aims to offer school admissions for 30,000 more children.
Moreover, preschool education in rural areas is being encouraged. Authorities in Hebei have said that each township should have at least one public kindergarten, while a large village with over 3,000 inhabitants should have at least one kindergarten.