At least in one area, India is ahead of China - number of children in pre-school.
According a new United Nations report, around 54% of children in India were enrolled for pre-school education as compared to around 48% in China in 2009.
The situation has changed in the last nine years.
The joint report of UNICEF and UNESCO titled Asia-Pacific End of Decade Notes on Education for All says that around 22% of children in India were in pre-schools in 2000 as compared to 38% in China.
This huge gain in education in India helped south Asia earning the distinction of fastest growth in pre-school education in the world.
“The number of children enrolled in nursery and kindergarten in South Asia has nearly doubled over the last decade with 47% children enrolling in pre-primary programs in 2009 as against only 25% in 2000,” the report said.
Lieke van de Wiel, UNICEF South Asia’s Regional Adviser for Education said the report shows that early childhood care and education has gained ground in the region. “Governments in South Asia and partners in education should be congratulated for this significant achievement of providing young children aged 3 to 6 years a chance to enroll in pre-primary programs thus fulfilling their right to an education,” she added.
The report attributed the growth in pre-school education to increase in number of private nursery schools and the government’s Integrated Child Development Scheme, where pre-school education was introduced a few years back, for increasing pre-school education in India.
On the other hand, the report highlighted with increase in enrollment the gender inequality has also increased. More boys were enrolled than girls, thereby creating an educational disadvantage for girls.