A Multiple Case Study on the Perceived Impacts of the 15-Year Free Education Policy in Macau

in International Journal of Chinese Education
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Former Portuguese colony and now a Special Administrative Region of China, Macau had progressed from following its colonizer and its neighbouring cities, like Hong Kong and Taiwan, to establishing its own education system and being the first in the Greater China region to deliver 15-year free education. The objective of this study was to examine the perceived impacts of this policy on the affordability, accessibility, accountability of early childhood education in Macau. A multiple case study, using quantitative (surveys) and qualitative (interviews) measures, was conducted in four private kindergartens in Macau to understand how the 4 principals, 24 teachers and 119 parents viewed the policy impacts. The results indicated that: (1) across roles, parents were the most supportive of the policy and consistently gave the highest grading amongst the three stakeholders. Principals were the most knowledgeable of the policy, but graded the policy lowest and regarded the government’s financial subsidy as the most insufficient. Teachers were the least optimistic and positive about the impacts of the policy. They felt that teacher qualification and the quality of teaching resources should be further enhanced; (2) Across school types, kindergartens which joined the free education network graded the policy higher and perceived its impacts more positively than the one which did not join; (3) Extra subsidies were suggested by the respondents to cover children’s extra-curricular activities, support from childcare and special education professionals, and school-based curriculum development.

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