Although preschool has been shown to improve children's school readiness in many developing countries, preschool attendance in poor rural areas of China is still low. The high cost of preschool is often regarded as a major barrier to attendance. In this paper, we evaluate the impact of a one-year voucher/CCT intervention on preschool attendance and school readiness. To do so, we conducted a randomized controlled trial among 150 young children in a poor, rural county in China. Our analysis shows that the intervention, consisting of a tuition waiver and a cash transfer conditional on attendance, raised attendance by 20 percentage points (or by 35%). However, the intervention did not have measurable impact on children's school readiness. We believe that poor quality of preschool education in rural China (in terms of both teaching and facilities) contributes to our findings.
Bibliographical noteThis project received grant support and the field assistance of the Plan International and Nokia (China) Investment Co., Ltd. The authors acknowledge the financial assistance of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71033003) and Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (2011RC102).
- Educational performance
- Preschool attendance
- Randomized controlled trials
- Rural China
- School readiness
- Voucher and conditional cash transfer