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Kindergarten 'scandal' shouldn't be a trust crisis for 'gardeners'

By Zhu Ping | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-24 15:46

It's not the first time a "scandal" involving a kindergarten has escalated into a big storm. Claiming the moral ground of protecting the youngsters, people are swarming to comment on social media, calling for harsh punishment for the “ugly” actions of a Beijing-based RYB Education Kindergarten.

Teachers at the kindergarten are accused of giving the children injections and medications without the consent of the parents, among other things. If such illegal deeds are confirmed, they should not only be strongly condemned but also dealt with according to law. Earlier this month, teachers at the child-care center of travel services provider Ctrip were punished for forcing children to eat mustard.

The flowers of the nation should be strictly protected. Those found guilty of any wrongdoing, should be held accountable for their actions and for tarnishing the image of all kindergartens. Since the majority of hard-working, highly-stressed and often poorly-paid “gardeners” shouldn’t be distrusted just because of the misconduct of a few.

Ignoring the RYB's counterclaims of libel and slander on Friday morning, the criticism of the kindergarten’s teachers continues to create a panic among parents of the large middle-income group who are appealing for stricter supervision of kindergartens, or to be more specifically, putting the staff members under stricter scrutiny.

The Beijing education committee responded quickly to these appeals, ordering a review of all the kindergartens in the city.

But such public sentiment is worrying. When a high school student in Yuanjiang, Hunan province, was arrested on the charge of killing his head teacher in mid-November. Social media let the tragedy pass away quietly without any condolences offered to the victim, who used to be a strict but responsible teacher and helped the student a lot.

Society’s zero-tolerance for any misconduct by teachers and indifference to their well-being may bring unexpected social by-products. There are an increasing number of reports that teachers, from kindergartens to high schools, have been punished or even sacked because of the dissatisfaction expressed by students or parents.

In reality, teachers in many cases don't dare educate students, not to mention be strict with them. For instance, to avoid any complaints, teachers in most schools don't dare allow students to play outside the classroom during the breaks for fear they might have an accident.

It’s time society reflected on the inadequate and unbalanced development in China's education. In 2016, there were more than 3.8 million members of staff working in kindergartens nationwide, with a shortage of about 2.5 million even according to the 2013 standard. In Beijing, the latest figures show private kindergartens, many of whom have to hire employees without certificates because of the shortage of professionals, accommodated 140,000 children in 2015, about 35 percent of the total. And the number will rise if the government-sponsored ones can’t keep up the pace of baby boom especially since the comprehensive two-child policy.

Teachers are often overstressed because of their hard work and the pressure the society imposed on them. The latest kindergarten case, the truth of which is yet not revealed, shouldn't spiral into a trust crisis for teachers, especially the kindergarten teachers.

The author is a writer with China Daily.

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