Opinion / From the Press

Child abuse scandals prompt overhaul of preschool education

( Updated: 2012-10-31 21:13

A spate of child abuse scandals in Chinese kindergartens have outraged the public and prompted calls for a wide-ranging review of China's preschool education. An article in the People's Daily said there need to be great efforts made to improve preschool supervision, government investment and recruitment of teachers to protect our children. Excerpts:

Bad practices are rife within preschool education, such as low standards asked of staff members, poor supervision, and a lack of professional training. In Wenling, Zhejiang province where a boy was abused by a teacher who pulled him off the ground by his ears, 60 percent of private kindergarten teachers are unlicensed.

Much of the investment in education has been targeted at China's nine-year compulsory education; little attention has been given to kindergartens and the vulnerable children who attend them. As preschool education is not part of China's compulsory education system, teachers in many local kindergartens are badly paid because of a lack of local government funding. Preschool teachers are a low-income group with low social status, resulting in some of the teachers venting their dissatisfaction and frustration at their situation on the innocent children.

What's worse, frequent but less notable, incidents of abuse are being inflicted by teachers with poor professionalism who are under too much pressure. This abuse could result in children suffering mental harm. As a result, it is devastating to see children leaving kindergarten with low self-confidence, timidity, and hostility — children who should be the future of a nation, filled with brightness and justice. 

To protect our children, a number of measures are being implemented which are expected to help mend the gaps by introducing a sound regulation system, greater financial support and stricter recruitment of teachers in preschool education. 

Admittedly, there is a long way to go. What we could do in the short-term is mobilize the power of parents and the community to strengthen supervision, and to root out unqualified preschool teachers.

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