Toward a more child-friendly society
Education experts have said that families, the community, social organizations and the government need to work together to create an inclusive child-friendly community service system which will promote healthy development and safeguard the rights of the country’s children.
While official figures show that there are about 220 million children aged between 0 to 14 in China, the country has yet to become a child-friendly society as many parents still face problems such as the shortage of pre-school education and healthcare services, according to experts.
“Take the education for children aged 0 to 3 old for example — we found that parents’ excessive protection and ignorance about this matter exist side-by-side. Besides that, excessive expectation and anxiety, information overload and confusion also co-exist,” said Zhou Nianli, a professor in education science from the Shanghai-based East China Normal University.
Having observed the experiences of countries like the United States, United Kingdom and Japan in building public service systems for children, experts said that one of the first steps would be to set up a volunteer system to serve the children across China.
“The government’s planning and joint work by various departments are needed if we want to establish an inclusive public service system as well as a corresponding supporting platform. This is systematic work which requires the whole society’s attention and participation, such as academics, social organizations, children care institutions and enterprises,” said Zhou during a symposium in Shanghai on the development of child friendly communities in China.
Social organizations have become increasingly involved in community service development in recent years. Some social work institutions and parents have voluntarily set up organizations and carried out a series of mutual aid community service projects based on pre-school education. Many of these projects have received positive feedback from the communities.
For example, the Yi Future Parent- Children Service Alliance, an initiative that focuses on the early development of children and the promotion of family education, has established 45 pilot projects in the country to address pre-school education issues for children aged 0 to 6.
“This is a preliminary attempt in building a child-friendly community in China. We hope to develop a sustainable community-based public welfare service platform through new concepts and ideas,” said Zhou Weiyan, who initiated the program.
Zhou said that this service, when compared with other commercial pre-school education institutions, puts more emphasis on the positive influence that family and the community have on children, especially in the building of a child’s character.
In June this year, the Ministry of Education and other related departments jointly released guidelines related to the development of community education, which the government has said is an important part of the country’s education system and community development efforts.
“All aspects of society should work together to help provide a relatively equal basic public service for the 220 million children in China, allowing them to have a fair development chance,” said Song Wenzhen, director of the children’s division of the State Council’s National Working Committee on Children and Women.