Preschool Experiences, Home Learning Activities and Early Achievement in China: Regional and Urbanicity Differences



This paper focuses on regional disparities in home learning environments, preschool experience and child outcomes and presents results from a series of studies. These studies were conducted by us or leveraged data from the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS). Across these studies, home learning environments were indexed by family socioeconomic status (SES) and/or home learning activities. Preschool experience was indexed by preschool attendance and/or preschool quality. Child outcomes were determined by direct assessment of children’s developmental status or through parent reports. Taken together, the results suggest that regional and SES-based disparities in early achievement continue to be prominent but that there is a trend for decreases in SES-based disparities in early primary school achievement.


Nirmala Rao is Serena H C Yang Professor in Early Childhood Development and Education and Chair Professor of Child Development and Education, Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong (HKU). A Developmental and Chartered (Educational) Psychologist by training, her research on early childhood development and education in Asian cultural contexts has been recognised internationally. This work has focused on the development of psychometrically robust and culturally-sensitive measures of both early childhood development and the quality of Early Childhood Education; early educational policy in the Asia-Pacific; evaluation of early childhood programmes; and culture, policy and pedagogy in the early years. Professor Rao has published widely, serves on the Editorial Board for premier scholarly journals, participated in high-level international meetings, and written advocacy materials. She regularly provides expertise and consultancy for the UN and its associated agencies. She has received awards for both research and teaching. Furthermore, she has also had significant administrative leadership roles in the Faculty of Education and at the Graduate School of HKU.

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