BEIJING — A Chinese official vowed Thursday to make administrative improvements following a scandal involving the abuse of children at a kindergarten in the nation’s capital that has sparked widespread outrage.
Vice Education Minister Tian Xuejun said the case exposed mismanagement and a failure to vigorously implement proper policies.
“That such things happened in kindergartens, I think, reveals the gap between people’s strong demand for kindergarten entry and the unbalanced, inadequate development of pre-school education,” Tian said.
Tian vowed better regulation, new legislation and stricter rules for qualifying teachers.
Chinese police said a teacher at the Beijing kindergarten pricked children with needles as punishment but an investigation found no evidence of sexual exploitation.
Chinese media reports about the alleged abuses at the Xintiandi kindergarten have drawn nationwide anger over potential lapses in supervision in the booming private preschool industry.
The school is run by Beijing-based RYB Education, a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
RYB posted an apology on its website and said complaints from parents at other RYB kindergartens would be fully investigated. It said it would accept responsibility for any harm to its students.
A police statement said initial results of an investigation showed that a 22-year-old teacher it identified only by her surname, Liu, had punished children who refused to sleep by pricking them with sewing needles. Liu has been detained.
Wang Quanjiang, a parent of a student at the Xiantiandi kindergarten, told The Associated Press he trusted the government but was suspicious of RYB management and still had questions about the investigation.
Wang said the report mentioned that three teachers had been placed under investigation, and said he wondered why only one had been detained.
He also described as “ridiculous” an explanation that security video at the school was incomplete because a worker in the room where the equipment was stored shut it off because it was too noisy.
“I have decided not to send my child to the kindergarten right now,” Wang said. “From what I have observed, many RYB students are not attending class.”
Associated Press writer Yi-ling Liu in Hong Kong contributed to this report.