Early Childhood Development and Parental Training Interventions in Rural China: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Introduction: Inadequate care during early childhood can lead to long-term deficits in skills. Parenting programmes that encourage investment in young children are a promising tool for improving early development outcomes and long-term opportunities in low-income and middle-income regions, such as rural China.
Methods: We conducted a systematic review and a meta-analysis to investigate the prevalence of early developmental delays and stimulating parenting practices as well as the effect of parental training programmes on child development outcomes in rural China. We obtained data in English from EconPapers, PubMed, PsycARTICLES, Cochrane Library, Web of Science and Scopus (Elsevier) and in Chinese from China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang Data and VIP Information. We conducted frequentist meta-analyses of aggregate data and estimated random-effects meta-regressions. Certainty of evidence was rated according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach.
Results: We identified 19 observational studies on the prevalence of developmental delays and stimulating parenting practices for children under 5 years of age (n=19 762) and ten studies on the impact of parental training programmes on early child development (n=13 766). Children’s risk of cognitive, language and social-emotional delays in the rural study sites (covering 14 provinces mostly in Central and Western China) was 45%, 46%, and 36%, respectively. Parental training programmes had a positive impact on child cognition, language and social-emotional development.
Conclusion: There is evidence to suggest that early developmental delay and the absence of stimulating parenting practices (ie, reading, storytelling and singing with children) may be prevalent across rural, low-income and middle-income regions in Central and Western China. Results support the effectiveness of parental training programmes to improve early development by encouraging parental engagement.
This study examines the effects of local and nationwide COVID‐19 disease control measures on the health and economy of China's rural population. We conducted phone surveys with 726 randomly selected village informants across seven rural Chinese provinces in February 2020. Four villages (0.55%) reported infections, and none reported deaths. Disease control measures had been universally implemented in all sample villages. About 74% of informants reported that villagers with wage‐earning jobs outside the village had stopped working due to workplace closures. A higher percentage of rural individuals could not work due to transportation, housing, and other constraints. Local governments had taken measures to reduce the impact of COVID‐19. Although schools in all surveyed villages were closed, 71% of village informants reported that students were attending classes online. Overall, measures to control COVID‐19 appear to have been successful in limiting disease transmission in rural communities outside the main epidemic area. Rural Chinese citizens, however, have experienced significant economic consequences from the disease control measures.
The home language environment is critical to early language development and subsequent skills. However, few studies have quantitatively measured the home language environment in low-income, developing settings. This study explores variations in the home language environment and child language skills among households in poor rural villages in northwestern China. Audio recordings were collected for 38 children aged 20–28 months and analyzed using Language Environment Analysis (LENA) software; language skills were measured using the MacArthur–Bates Mandarin Communicative Developmental Inventories expressive vocabulary scale. The results revealed large variability in both child language skills and home language environment measures (adult words, conversational turns, and child vocalizations) with 5- to 6-fold differences between the highest and lowest scores. Despite variation, however, the average number of adult words and conversational turns were lower than found among urban Chinese children. Correlation analyses did not identify significant correlations between demographic characteristics and the home language environment. However, the results do indicate significant correlations between the home language environment and child language skills, with conversational turns showing the strongest correlation. The results point to a need for further research on language engagement and ways to increase parent–child interactions to improve early language development among young children in rural China.
Internet use has become particularly prevalent among adolescents, prompting much thought and concern about both its potential benefits and adverse effects on adolescent learning outcomes. Much of the empirical literature on the impact of Internet use on adolescent learning outcomes is mixed, and few studies examine the causal relationship between the two in rural China. In order to bridge these gaps, we use empirical analysis to investigate the effect of Internet use on the learning outcomes of adolescents in rural China.
We use fixed effect models with samples drawn from a large nationally representative dataset (the China Family Panel Studies—CFPS) to identify the causal impacts of Internet use on the learning outcomes of three cohorts (Cohort A (N = 540), Cohort B (N = 287) and Cohort C (N = 827)) of adolescents in rural China.
The results of the descriptive analysis show a continued increase in the number of adolescents accessing the Internet and the amount of time they spend online. The results of the fixed effect models show that Internet use has positive (in many of the analyses), but mostly insignificant impacts, on the learning outcomes of adolescents. In the sets of results that find significant associations between Internet use and learning outcomes, the measured effects are moderate.
This study investigates the causal relationship between Internet use and adolescent learning outcomes in rural China. The findings claim that there is not a great need to worry about adverse effects of Internet use on adolescent learning development. Attention, however, should focus on seeking ways to improve the positive effects of the Internet use on adolescent learning outcomes. The study will provide a reference and experience for the development of education and the Internet in rural areas and promote the integrated development of urban and rural areas in China.
The Impact of Online Computer Assisted Learning at Home for Disadvantaged Children in Taiwan: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment
Background: Maternal health during pregnancy is a key input in fetal health and child development. This study
aims to systematically describe the health behaviors of pregnant women in rural China and identify which
subgroups of women are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors during pregnancy.
Off the Epicenter: COVID-19 Quarantine Controls and Employment, Education, and Health Impacts in Rural Communities
In late January 2020, China’s government initiated its first aggressive measures to combat COVID-19 by forbidding individuals from leaving their homes, radically limiting public transportation, cancelling or postponing large public events, and closing schools across the country. The rollout of these measures coincided with China’s Lunar New Year holiday, during which more than 280 million people had returned from their places of work to their home villages in rural areas. The disease control policies remained in place until late February and early March, when they were gradually loosened to
Visual Impairment in Rural and Migrant Chinese School-Going Children: Prevalence, Severity, Correction and Association
Safety of Eyeglasses Wear for Visual Acuity among Middle School Students in Northwestern Rural China: A Cluster-randomised Controlled Trial
The Impact of Computer Assisted Learning on Rural Taiwanese Children: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment
Education and EdTech during COVID-19: Evidence from a Large-Scale Survey during School Closures in China
Impact of Spectacles Wear on Uncorrected Visual Acuity among Urban Migrant Primary School Children in China: A Cluster-Randomised Clinical Trial
Previous literature suggests subpar teaching is a primary reason why rural Chinese students lag behind academically. We initiate an investigation into the potential of educational technology (EdTech) to increase teaching quality in rural China. First, we discuss why conventional approaches of improving teaching in remote schools are infeasible in China’s context, referring to past research. We then explore the capacity of technology-assisted instruction to improve academic performance by examining previous empirical analyses. Third, we show that China is not limited by the resource constraints of other developing countries due to substantial policy support and a thriving EdTech industry. Finally, we identify potential implementation-related challenges based on the results of a preliminary qualitative survey of pilots of EdTech interventions. With this paper, we lay the foundation for a long-term research investigation into whether EdTech can narrow China’s education gap.
In China, low levels of early childhood development (ECD) in rural areas may inhibit economic development as the nation attempts to transition from a middle-income manufacturing-based economy to a high-income innovation economy. This paper surveys the recent literature on ECD among children ages 0-3 years in rural China, including rates of developmental delays, causes of delays, and implications for the future of China’s economy. Recent studies have found high rates of developmental delays among young children in rural China and point to poor nutrition and psychosocial stimulation as the primary causes. This review highlights the need for large-scale ECD interventions in rural China to raise human capital and support future economic growth.
Impact of a Local Vision Care Center on Glasses Ownership and Wearing Behavior in Northwestern Rural China: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial
Abstract: Visual impairment is common among rural Chinese children, but fewer than a quarter of children who need glasses actually own and use them. To study the effect of rural county hospital vision centers (VC) on self-reported glasses ownership and wearing behavior (primary outcome) among rural children in China, we conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial at a VC in the government hospital of Qinan County, a nationally-designated poor county. All rural primary schools (n = 164) in the county were invited to participate. Schools were randomly assigned to either the treatment group to receive free vision care and eyeglasses, if needed, or control group, who received glasses only at the end of the study. Among 2806 eligible children with visiual impairment (visual acuity ≤ 6/12 in either eye), 93 (3.31%) were lost to follow-up, leaving 2713 students (45.0% boys). Among these, glasses ownership at the end of the school year was 68.6% among 1252 treatment group students (82 schools), and 26.4% (p < 0.01) among 1461 controls (82 schools). The rate of wearing glasses was 55.2% in the treatment group and 23.4% (p < 0.01) among the control group. In logistic regression models, treatment group membership was significantly associated with spectacle ownership (Odds Ratio [OR] = 11.9, p < 0.001) and wearing behavior (OR = 7.2, p < 0.001). County hospital-based vision centers appear effective in delivering childrens’ glasses in rural China.
Effect of a Local Vision Care Center on Eyeglasses Use and School Performance in Rural China A Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial
Can a county-based vision center increase eyeglasses use and improve school performance among primary schoolchildren in rural China? This cluster randomized clinical trial of 31 schools and 2613 participants showed that children who received eyeglasses earlier in the school year performed significantly better on an end-of-year mathematics test than children who received eyeglasses later in the year, equivalent to half a semester. Provision of free eyeglasses also improved children's use of spectacles.
Cluster-randomized Controlled Trial of the Effects of Free Glasses on Purchase of Children's Glasses in China: The PRICE (Potentiating Rural Investment in Children's Eyecare) Study
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to produce a high-quality measure of the nature of healthcare resources available in China’s Township Health Centers (THCs), paying particular attention to equity between high- and low-income areas.
Design/methodology/approach – This study makes use of data from a nearly nationally representative survey in rural China conducted by the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2011. The samples of towns were selected randomly from 25 counties located in five provinces from different regions of China. Data were collected through questionnaires and direct observation.
Findings – The THCs located in rich areas have higher levels of human resources than poor areas. THCs in rich areas also have more fixed assets than those in poor areas. In fact, even though the Chinese Ministry of Health mandates that all THCs have certain basic levels of medical equipment and facilities, many THCs in poor areas do not have them. The allocation of mandated equipment is unequal.
Practical implications – These findings suggest that China’s government should pay more attention to THCs located in poor areas, especially in light of new initiatives to improve health care in poor rural areas.
Originality/value – This is the first nationally representative study to employ rigorous empirics to investigate the extent of inequality in allocation of resources within THCs across China.
Keywords China, Health, Inequality, Rural development, Medical resources, Township health centers
Paper type Research paper
Students in rural China are dropping out of secondary school at troubling rates. While there is considerable quantitative research on this issue, no systematic effort has been made to assess the deeper reasons behind student decision making through a mixed-methods approach. This article seeks to explore the prevalence, correlates and potential reasons for rural dropout throughout the secondary education process. It brings together results from eight large-scale survey studies covering 24,931 rural secondary students across four provinces, as well as analysis of extensive interviews with 52 students from these same study sites. The results show that the cumulative dropout rate across all windows of secondary education may be as high as 63 per cent. Dropping out is significantly correlated with low academic performance, high opportunity cost, low socioeconomic status and poor mental health. A model is developed to suggest that rural dropout is primarily driven by two mechanisms: rational cost-benefit analysis or impulsive, stress-induced decision making.
Exploring the Dropout Rates and Causes of Dropout in Upper-Secondary Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Schools in China
Policymakers in many developing countries regard upper-secondary technical and vocational education and training (TVET) as a key element in economic growth and poverty reduction. Unfortunately, there is evidence that upper-secondary TVET programs in developing countries experience high rates of dropout. The overall goal of this study is to examine the dropout rates and reasons for dropout among uppersecondary TVET students in China. To meet this goal, we have three specific objectives. First, we seek to produce high-quality estimates of dropout rates among students in upper-secondary TVET schools in one coastal and one inland province of China. Second, we seek to identify which students drop out from upper-secondary TVET. Third, we test whether financial constraints, math and computer achievement, and parental education and migration status correlate with TVET dropout. Drawing on data from a survey of 7414 upper-secondary TVET students in two provinces of China, we find dropout rates of 10.7% across both provinces and as high as 22% in poorer inland areas, suggesting major gaps and disparities in Chinese TVET dropout rates. Furthermore, we find that baseline academic performance and maternal education and migration status are strong correlates for student dropout.