In nursery schools and kindergartens in Japan, kids are provided with early education to enhance their curiosity, cooperativeness, and other skills through various activities and play to nurture their academic abilities. Now, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology plans to conduct a long-term project to measure the effects of early childhood education, early learning, and family environment on tens of thousands of preschoolers and their families.
The study - the first of its kind in Japan - will gather information on children's occupations, household work type, and annual income, as well as measure their academic progress and follow their development after they enter elementary school until adulthood. The government's goal is that by analyzing such data, they could develop more effective educational programs.
The Japanese initiative is not the first in this field. In the 1960s, the famous Perry Preschool Project examined the effects of early childhood education on young Americans from low-income families. Participants in the study were divided into two groups: children benefiting from early education and those who are not. Even today, the Perry Preschool Project continues to track participants into the second half of their lives.
The Perry Preschool experience has shown that the percentage of participants, now aged 40, whose annual income reached $20,000 or above was 50% higher among the people who received early education in comparison to those who did not. Even the crimes-committed rate for the people in the former group tends to be lower.
Results of the Perry Preschool Project have also revealed that there was a $12.9 return for every $1.00 invested in early childhood education, triggering overseas awareness of the key importance of positive early learning programs. We hope the Japanese project will be just as useful - for Japan and the rest of the world.
Picture: Japanese kids learning in a preschool classroom (ChildUp & DALL-E - 2023)