Kindergartens affiliated with urban residential communities should be inexpensive and nonprofit, according to a notice issued by the State Council's General Office on Tuesday.
Existing community-affiliated kindergartens should all be handed over to local education authorities and turned into public or low-priced private ones, it said.
China has launched a campaign to address problems in kindergartens affiliated with urban residential communities. A task force will be set up with officials from the State Council, the Ministry of Education and several other ministry-level departments, the notice said.
Lyu Yugang, director of the basic education department of the Ministry of Education, said local education authorities should conduct a thorough inspection of all community-affiliated kindergartens by the end of April.
All new kindergartens should be handed over to education authorities by the end of June, he said at a news conference.
The authorities should complete plans for communities that need new kindergartens and those that need renovation and expansion by the end of this year, and all construction work on the kindergartens should be finished by the end of 2020, Lyu said.
The government will make sure that all kindergarten teachers, private or public, earn a reasonable salary and that their basic benefits, including insurance and housing funds, are paid in full and without delay, he said.
Although it is still too early to include three years of preschool education in the country's compulsory, free education program, the government will make sure more students enjoy an inclusive, affordable and high-quality preschool education, he added.
Luo Xiaolong, a professor at Nanjing University's School of Architecture and Urban Planning, said the notice reflects the government's determination to provide affordable preschool education.
"The second-child policy implemented in early 2016 has increased competition for good preschool education resources, and the government should increase its investment in the sector," he said.
Kindergarten teachers should have better salaries and a good working atmosphere so that more qualified individuals will apply for such jobs, he said.
Children attending inexpensive public kindergartens, or low-priced private ones, will account for 80 percent of all preschoolers by 2020, according to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council.
By 2035, a three-year preschool education will be available for all children between the ages of 3 and 6, and a national preschool network will be established, it said.
Affordable preschools will be the priority of the campaign, the document said. Governments at all levels are encouraged to establish public kindergartens, in a bid to put about 50 percent of all preschool children into public education by 2020.