By Irving Feng
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
BEIJING, China – Photographs depicting kindergarten teachers in China’s eastern province of Zhejiang allegedly abusing young children were posted on the social networking site “Weibo” last Wednesday.
The pictures that were taken and uploaded on China’s social networking site, Weibo, showed a teacher holding up a student by the ears as the student screamed and writhed in pain. The teacher can be seen smiling in the photograph as she is holding up the child by the ears.
Additional photographs displayed a child being put upside down in a trash can and a child’s mouth being sealed with tape. A video also circulated on social networking sites which showed a teacher slapping a five year old girl in the face repeatedly.
Parents of the students at The Blue Peacock Kindergarten, the location where these abuses took place, have cried out in public outrage for the alleged abuse that their children have suffered. The father of the girl who had been slapped repeatedly alerted local police after his daughter arrived home from school with bruises on her face. The classroom’s security camera confirmed the physical punishment.
The teacher who held up the student by the ears was later identified as Yan Yanhong, a 20 year old private kindergarten teacher from Wenling city. Yan was detained by local police on Thursday after the infamous photos were posted on the internet.
Yan, a 20 year old unlicensed teacher, commented to local news sources that the photo depicts her and the student merely having some fun. Her fellow teacher who had helped Yan take the pictures was punished by being placed under a 7 day administrative detention. The teachers have also been ordered by local authorities to publically apologize to students and parents.
Because kindergarten is not about of China’s nine-year compulsory curriculum, it does not enjoy the adequate necessary government funding and assistance. There is a severe shortage of public kindergartens so the rise in private schools providing early education to Chinese students has stepped up to fill the void. Unlicensed teachers, like Yan, have also been hired hastily by these private schools to help relieve the shortages of available private education for young Chinese children.
Private kindergartens often do not have proper supervision like their public counterparts. The teachers are also severely underpaid due to cost cutting measures implemented due to the financial pressures of operating these schools. An average private kindergarten teacher in the Zhejiang province of China can expect to earn roughly 20,000 RMB, which is about 30% of the salary enjoyed by their public school counterparts.
Local laws also do not provide favorable protection to the students. Chinese law does allow for the charge of abuse to be applied to teachers who harm their students. The punishment of these abusive teachers is also left up to school administrators and the educational authorities.
Pundits have expressed a need for the Chinese government to up their spending on early childhood education. Currently, the Chinese government spends about 1.2 of total educational expenditures on kindergarten education programs; developed countries spend an average of 6-8%.
For further information, please see:
Shanghai Daily – Abuse scandal kindergarten head sacked – 28 October 2012
BBC – China outcry over picture of teacher hurting pupil – 25 October 2012
China Daily – Abusive teacher exposes lack of supervision – 25 October 2012
Global Times – Kindergarten teachers detained for “ear pulling” in East China – 25 October 2012
Huffington Post – Chinese Kindergarten Teacher Allegedly Lifts Student Off Ground By Ears, Shares Photo On Internet – 24 October 2012