SINGAPORE: The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) imposed a fine of S$5,000 (US$3,700) for the operator of Kinderland Preschool @ Woodlands Mart, in response to disturbing incidents at the facility.
The ECDA admitted in a press release on Monday (4 Sep) that their agency should have promptly removed a teacher, known as Educator A, after she was captured on film abusing a child.
The former educator, Lin Min, faces charges after a video surfaced of her force-feeding and striking a toddler. A series of three videos, leaked online on 28 August, showcased Lin’s mistreatment of the children in her care.
Lin, a 33-year-old Singaporean, is alleged to have forced a 23-month-old girl into a prone position before pouring water into her mouth.
The incident saw Lin warned under Early Childhood Development Centres regulations, barring her from future employment in the preschool sector. Legal proceedings continue as police further investigate.
In addition, ECDA found that another teacher employed inappropriate methods to limit a three-year-old child’s mobility on two distinct occasions.
This involved pulling the child’s shirt over a chair’s back and using infant chair straps to prevent movement.
ECDA criticized the center’s principal for insufficient oversight, leading to these unacceptable child management methods. As a result, she can’t assume a principal role in any preschool for two years, pending further evaluation after refresher training.
In light of the incidents’ gravity, ECDA penalized the preschool’s operator, reducing its license tenure to 6 months. Failure to enhance their care standards may result in a non-renewal of their license after this period.
Acknowledging the agency’s shortcomings, ECDA’s chief executive officer, Tan Chee Wee, said, “We apologise for not acting swiftly in removing the educator from her classroom role during the ongoing investigations.” The agency is committed to bolstering its protocols and training regimes.
Although ECDA commenced investigations the day following the report, the agency acknowledged their lapse in ensuring that staff members were promptly removed from classroom duties in instances where child safety was visibly compromised. The agency is actively reviewing and amending their protocols for better case oversight.
In related news, ECDA provided updates on incidents at another branch, Kinderland @ Sunshine Place in Choa Chu Kang.
An educator was reported pushing a child in April 2022, while in another concluded case, two educators strapped a toddler in his chair multiple times.
The educators defended their actions as measures to concentrate the child’s attention and prevent injuries. Stern warnings have been issued, with a promise of harsher consequences if such incidents reoccur.
In light of these recent incidents, Kinderland’s headquarters is tasked with reviewing child management practices across all their preschools.
Findings and recommendations are expected within three months. ECDA has pledged to closely monitor all Kinderland preschools and perform unannounced checks regularly.