The WISE Awards

One Village One Preschool

Activity: One Village One Preschool aims at providing accessible early childhood development services to remote, mountainous, and impoverished villages through Village Early Education Centers (VEECs).

Name of the Organization: The China Development Research Foundation (CDRF)

Headquarter: Beijing, China

Geographical reach: 15 poverty counties in southwestern and northwestern contiguous mountainous regions in China and serves

Number of beneficiaries: 44,927 children in 1,600 Village Early Education Centers (VEECs)

Project Representative: Mr. Lu Mai

Websites: http://www.cdrf.org.cn

Learning Dance – The China Development Research Foundation (CDRF)

About the Project

One Village One Preschool by the China Development Research Foundation is an impact investment solution that provides accessible early childhood development services in remote and impoverished Chinese regions through “Village Early Education Centers” (VEECs). These VEECs provide low-cost preschool services for children living in poverty and/or left behind in villages, due to the massive rural exodus China has known. With its 42-weeks-per-year preschool program, the project enriches children’s language, boosts their socio-emotional development and school readiness.

Context and Issue

China’s historic rural-to-urban migration has resulted in 61 million children left behind in villages, cared for by aging grandparents who often cannot access facilities in distant townships due to geographical distance and affordability. Children who attend VEECs are especially vulnerable. They are left behind when parents migrate for work, are disadvantaged ethnic minorities, live in broken or poor families subsisting on welfare, and/or have caregivers with low literacy and education. Among all children attending VEECs, 48.8% are left behind (with at least one parent away for 6 months or more). VEECs provide essential in-village ECD services and the necessary nurturance for young children living in poverty and/or without parental care.

The distance for and safety of children traveling to and from township preschools is more than 20‒30 minutes’ walking time away, are primary concerns of grandparents caring for young children and may prevent them from sending their grandchildren to preschool.

The Solution and Impact

The One Village One Preschool project is an impact investment solution that provides accessible ECD services in remote, mountainous, and impoverished villages in China. Through VEECs, the project reaches 15 poverty counties and could potentially reach 834 nationally designated poverty counties in China, as well as 60 low- and middle-income countries internationally through China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This non-formal, center-based, preschool project trains volunteers as “first teachers” and provides low-cost, 42-weeks-per-year early childhood education for young children ages 3-6 years in remote villages that do not have preschools. The project is enriching children’s language and socio-emotional skills, to boost their socio-emotional development, well-being, school readiness, and later school performance.

Future Developments

The CDRF has identified several areas for improvement: teacher:pupil ratio, use of technology in teacher training, R&D of curricula, quality assurance, and professional management. It is collaborating with the Asia Impact Investment Fund to improve the VEEC model, with aims to provide quality, affordable early education in poverty regions and, ultimately, gain an impact investment solution for social investment in low-income countries.