The owner of a private kindergarten in HCM City, along with one member of her staff, have just been charged with child abuse.
On December 17, police in Thu Duc District started prosecution procedures against Le Thi Dong Phuong, owner of Phuong Anh Kindergarten in Hiep Binh Phuoc District, and Nguyen Le Thien Ly, a care-giver employed there, for abusive acts.
Police in Hiep Binh Phuoc District received a video clip recorded by a labourer who worked next door to the kindergarten showing the care-taker beating children. The clip showed one child being strangled and pushed into water tank amid a storm of cursing. When the kids vomited because they cried too hard, the care-givers would make them eat it.
Bui Thi Thanh Le, a parent in the district said, “We sent our child there at a monthly fee of VND1.3 million. I did notice that my child looked pale and didn’t want to go to school, but I thought that he just wanted to stay home and play.” When the police requested her to come to their office for investigation, on December 13, Phuong Anh Kindergarten was also closed indefinitely. “I was so mad when I watched the clip that I called Phuong. She said I should calm down and hung up on me,” Le said.
The police also collected evidence against Phuong for illegal business activities. In August, Phuong asked the Hiep Binh Phuoc District People’s Committee for legal forms to open a kindergarten. Even though she was not granted the license, she proceeded to hire 18-year-old Nguyen Le Thien Ly to look after 19 children, most from poor families.
In November, authorities asked Phuong to halt her unlicensed business, but the request was ignored and she was fined. It was only after the video clip was released that Phuong and Ly admitted their actions.
The head of the HCM City Department of Education and Training, Le Hong Son, said Phuong was the most to blame because she had graduated from a major in pre-school education and had worked at a well-known kindergarten in HCM City. Son said the police may also prosecute other employees of the school.
Son further said that the management was negligent in their duties. “Childcare services are popping up in the city, with 1,368 households providing these services. Labourers from across the country arrive at industrial zones in HCM City for jobs, so the demand for baby-sisters is high. Public schools receive children who are over 16 months old, private schools receive kids over 12 months old, so that leaves out children between 6 and 12 months old,” he said.
According to Son, the authorities should build kindergartens at 13 industrial and processing zones to accommodate labourers.