Professor Rao’s research work has focused on the development of psychometrically robust and culturally-sensitive measures of both early childhood development and the quality of Early Childhood Education; early educational policy in the Asia-Pacific; evaluation of early childhood programmes; and culture, policy and pedagogy in the early years. Her primary areas of research include
Early Childhood Development and Education
Child Development and Educational Policy
Developmental and Educational Psychology
Culture and Pedagogy
A significant contribution of her research has been its impact on equity-focused national early childhood policy development, thus making a positive difference to the well-being of children not only in Hong Kong but across the world.
The impact of her projects is evident in scientific publications and through their influence on educational policy in Hong Kong and beyond
Professor Rao has led the development of the East Asia-Pacific Early Child Development Scales (EAP-ECDS), the first developmental assessment tool created on the basis of the culture and values of a world region. The EAP-ECDS were lauded as one of the major events influencing early childhood development policy and practice in the 2017 Lancet series on Early Childhood Development. The impact of the EAP-ECDS research has been recognised through a Best of UNICEF Research award for “policy impact, innovative design, thoughtful use of available data, methodological rigour and potential replicability in both the country of origin and other country contexts.” UNICEF (2015)