The development of social capital through early childhood education services to achieve children’s outcomes

Year: 2019

Author: Ng, Josephine, Nyland, Berenice

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Over recent decades dramatic economic shifts in China has highlighted inequalities between the urban and rural children and corresponding outcomes. Poverty is a powerful force that negatively impacts children’s development and life chances as children are often victims of poverty risk. These risks include delayed development, growth and learning, acute malnutrition, physical stunting, behavioural and trauma issues and disabilities. This study explores the development of initiatives to develop social capital through early childhood education and care centres (ECEC) in rural China. This paper draws on theories of social capital and a quantitative data set that collected information from rural provinces that were identified as being disadvantaged. The data examined in this paper is the section of a questionnaire, personally delivered to households, which dealt with parents’ knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) in relation to child-rearing. Corresponding roles played by government policies to embrace the strategies of social capital development to further support community networks through ECEC centres has been promoted through this research. Findings indicated that the research program using ECEC centres to build communities and social capital helped to reach out to families to participate in parent-education sessions, including health and nutrition and developmental screening for children and infants, parent-child joint interactive activities, a drop in centre and access to information about vaccination, importance of reading, singing and playing games with children in the home.

To support the theoretical frame, the following research questions are used to guide this paper.

1. What characteristics contextualise these families living in China’s rural counties?
2. How will the development of social capital assist families to improve children’s outcomes?
3. How will early childhood education centres (ECEC) support families to develop social capital?

A quantitative data set from the Local Action for Rural Children (LARC) project from eight disadvantaged counties in China’s rural provinces was analysed using SPSS statistic software with a focus on early childhood development. Findings from the LARC project affirmed the limited interactions of parent-child, low educational levels of parents, lack of resources and understanding of child development. Social capital development can reach out to poorer households and individuals and has been shown to have the potential for long term positive effects to help to raise individual abilities, skills and quality for economic wellbeing.