Despite being on track to achieve its goal of universal access to education, the world’s most populous nation is still facing major obstacles to fulfilling every child’s right to receive a quality education. Many of China’s children between 0 and 6 years living in rural areas still have limited access to quality education.
Gender inequality is also an issue in China. According to the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, China ranks 100th out of 144 economies across the world in terms of gender equality. Women in China still face disadvantage in terms of economic status, learning opportunities, political participation, health and welfare. This is particularly the case in the more rural western provinces and is exacerbated by an imbalanced male to female birth ratio.
Internal migration is another factor posing challenges for both women and children. With China’s economic development stronger in the eastern coastal provinces than in the western interior, about 169 million migrant workers had relocated (by 2016) to urban areas to find work. This has very quickly led to the creation of large group of (internal) migrant children and so-called “left-behind children”, i.e. children’s whose parents have moved to work far from home leaving their young children with family members, most often grand-parents. Taught by grandparents, the family education of left-behind children faces great challenges. Young left-behind children and migrant children are largely cut off from the community and preschool education, only to be found in town centers due to the centralized nature of education.
Since 2006, Aide et Action China has been responding to these challenges by increasing Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) services in vulnerable communities by setting up community-based ECCE centers and by raising awareness of parents and communities on the importance of a holistic preschool education for their young ones.
Through a gender mainstreaming approach, our program also supports rural, migrant families in their transition to urban settings, with a special focus on left-behind children and educators’ training.
And born out of the need for women to adapt to a fast-changing society, Aide et Action China also promotes the development and improvement of women’s livelihoods by providing vocational training courses. Aide et Action has been helping women to both develop livelihoods and support each other in the area of child care. Our team has been training and engaging women to raise awareness about maternity and infant health management, to provide social and mental health support for women during pregnancy and after birth, and to promote the development of a mother- and baby-friendly environment.