One of the most fundamental facts of China’s education system is the huge gap between rural and urban children and youth. Despite massive investments into the schooling system, the gap has not narrowed. While there may be many barriers to improving academic performance and attainment, might it be that the children of China are growing up in an environment that is leading to poor levels of cognition, language, and non-cognitive skills for a large enough share of the rural population (that still accounts from nearly 3 out of 4 children from 0-15) that raising the level of human capital during the school years of children is not possible?
In this presentation, I will present the results of a number of papers–all empirical in nature–that will seek to answer this question. I will look at the nature of human capital of rural infants and toddlers during the first 1000 days (from ages 0-3), also examining the sources of the development delays. Next I will follow the life cycle over time and look at levels of cognition and non-cognitive skills as children age, from 3 to 5 to 11 to 15. I also will look at the impact of poor cognition on academic performance. Finally, I will examine different attempts at ECD interventions that may help overcome these delays in remote, low-income rural settings.
Scott Rozelle holds the Helen Farnsworth Endowed Professorship at Stanford University and is Senior Fellow and Professor in the Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI) for International Studies. Dr. Rozelle’s research focuses on the economics of poverty—with an emphasis on the economics of education and health. Dr. Rozelle is the co-director of the Rural Education Action Project (REAP) and is an adjunct professor in 8 Chinese universities. In 2008, Dr. Rozelle was awarded the Friendship Award—the highest honor that can be endowed on a foreign citizen—by Premiere Wen Jiabao.