Modernisation and marketisation : The Chinese kindergarten in the 1990s

Abstract: This is a study of changes in Chinese kindergarten education in the era of the post-Mao four modernisations. Based on fieldwork carried out in China in 1997, this thesis examined the changes of Chinese kindergarten education at two levels — changes in system (structural change) and changes in educational activities (curriculum and ideological change), especially for the period of the 1990s. Changes are described and discussed in a historical context, in which both changes in policy and in practice are examined.Changes in education are closely linked to the social, political, economic and cultural context. The content, process and outcomes of reform in early childhood education in China have been affected by the national goals of reform, the social context of early educational institutions, their organizational characteristics, family structure, family policy, and the specific professional culture of teaching and learning. Recent structural reforms in early childhood education have been shaped by the foremost task of the nation - economic development. The previous welfare model of kindergarten, which was regarded as one of the outcomes of a socialist system, is being transformed into a new market competitive model to meet a political demand for the marketisation of society. The curricula of early educational program, teachers' attitudes to children, and their professional activities, therefore, have been re-shaped according to new ideas about the needs and abilities of children, new conceptions of child development and, not least, the new modernisation "knowledge" that gained ascendancy in China during the 1990s.