Hong Kong preschools rank low in EIU index

Hong Kong preschools ranked 19th out of 45 nations in the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) index

We know from research that 80% of what is important in young children’s development happens in the home …” Siobhan Fitzpatrick Economist Intelligent Unit report “Starting Well”

Starting Well is an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) research programme, commissioned by the Lien Foundation of Singapore, which ranks the preschool environments in 45 countries in OECD countries and emerging nations.

The EIU interviewed a number of experts from across the world including early childcare experts, academics, NGOs, preschool practitioners, and policy specialists.

At its core, the Starting Well Index assesses the extent to which these governments provide a good, inclusive early childhood education (ECE) environment for children between the ages of three and six. In particular, it considers the relative availability, affordability and quality of such preschool environments.

Hong Kong preschool ranked 19th out of 45 countries, scoring low on parental involvement and availability and affordability of preschool education.

Key findings

As economies shift towards more knowledge-based activities, awareness about child development – the need to improve their social awareness, confidence and group interaction skills, and to prepare them for starting primary education – continues to grow.

Nevertheless, policymakers still give most attention to the tertiary, secondary and primary levels of education, in descending order of importance, with the least focus given to the early years of child development.

Hong Kong preschool rank 19th in EIU early learning index

Among the key findings of the research are as follows:

  • The Nordic countries perform best at preschool, and European countries dominate the rankings.
  • Many high-income countries rank poorly, despite wealth being a major factor in a country’s ability to deliver preschool services.
  • Several countries punch above their weight, delivering widespread preschool services, despite having lower average per-capita incomes relative to their peers.
  • Public sector spending cuts pose a major threat to preschools, especially among recent adopters
  • Much basic progress is still required.
  • Affordability of preschool is typically worst in those countries where availability is most limited.
  • Ensuring a high standard of teacher training and education, setting clear curriculum guidelines, and ensuring parental involvement are some of the main drivers of preschool education quality.
  • The factors defining quality are widespread, from high training standards and well-defined guidelines to ensuring parental involvement too.

Ensuring parental engagement in preschool education

Though opinions differ on the specific role of the state in preschool provision, it is clear that parents have a major role to play. Here, countries do at least have the ability to proactively encourage parental involvement. “We know from research that 80% of what is important in young children’s development happens in the home environment,” says Ms Fitzpatrick. “It’s a good way of getting local parents involved in supporting, delivering and understanding the importance of early education,” she says.

Why do you think the Hong Kong preschool system scores so low?

My professional experience with preschools and kindergartens in Hong Kong is that parents care deeply about their child’s preschool education, but are often busy with work and the hectic pace of Hong Kong. They find it difficult to plan and prepare a structured educational lessons for their children that can be taught by their helper while they are at work.

This is where ActivityBox comes in. Every month we provide a structured plan for parents and helpers to use at home to teach children age 3 – 8 through play based activities.

Our approach to learning focuses on core skills that should be taught daily, in and out of your home. ActivityBox provides structured activities using six categories of lessons. The activities do not require any special toys or costly additional purchases by you to teach your child.

ActivityBox lessons provide predictable routines to help your child learn and master core skills. Each lesson includes activities that repeat and extend learning in a fun, non-intimidating way.

Let me know what you think about the Eiu early education index, the Hong Kong preschool ranking and what we can do to help children prepare for kindergarten, primary school and a lifetime of learning.

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