To promote international awareness of the education of children and their ongoing development in the post-pandemic era, a forum on children's development was held on Thursday and Friday, which also marked World Children's Day on Nov 20.
Held by China Soong Ching Ling Foundation and the China Welfare Institute, the two-day forum has gathered more than 100 teachers, scholars and veteran educators from home and abroad to discuss the current situation and future development of preschool education in China, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, among other countries.
Their topics also cover the role of physical education in children's growth, how to establish a support system for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and what challenges will be faced in a post-COVID-19 world.
At the event, Wang Jiarui, chairman of the Foundation and the Institute, pointed out that around 47 million Chinese children had to take online classes when the pandemic interrupted the normal operations of the country's kindergartens. However, long stretches of screen time are harmful to children's eyes.
"We still have to explore how we can ensure a sustainable way of educating children that meets the 'new normal' due to the pandemic," he says.
He adds that one of the biggest problems in China's preschool education sphere is that teachers and parents tend to attach less importance to physical education than English, math and the other main subjects. He hopes that all the experts and scholars will share their innovative, forward-looking views on how to ensure a sound, balanced education for children in China and around the world.
Cynthia McCaffrey, UNICEF's Representative to China, also says that children's education is facing unprecedented challenges this year. At this point, UNICEF will cooperate with its partners in China to guarantee an equal opportunity for all children, especially those most vulnerable, such as those struggling in poverty or with disabilities, to enjoy good-quality education.
Feng Xiaoxia, a professor with the department of preschool education at Beijing Normal University, delivered a keynote speech at the forum, where he discussed how to carry out reforms in early childhood education in China.
"Education is about to embrace a society full of changes and uncertainties in the coming years and it must be reformed in a way that meets future needs," says Feng.
"It will take a long time for the country to adopt a top-down process to reconstruct the mindset on education," Feng adds.