This paper is about an experiment in non-formal early childhood education for migrant children in Beijing. The Si Huan Playgroup was set up by a group of volunteers in 2004 and is built on ideas of early childhood pedagogy, equity, life-long learning and non-formal education. Non-formal education has implications for policy makers as this is a model that has the potential to build capacity in disadvantaged communities and provide educational experiences for preschool children. The model, as envisaged by the participants of the Si Huan Playgroup, is a provider of preschool education, operates on a volunteer basis that aims to be an educational experience for both the volunteer parents and the children. The playgroup operates alongside existing preschools in the formal education sector. Policy makers in Beijing can see tensions around the growth of a sector that is developing outside regulatory and legislative guidelines. The Si Huan playgroup has been closed down by the authorities a number of times. In this paper we outline the history and growth of the Si Huan Playgroup, explore the theoretical underpinnings of non-formal education and discuss the problems inherent in such an initiative, as well as commenting on the sustainability of such a model.
- early childhood care and education
- lifelong learning
- non-formal education