Pre-school education probe long overdue

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 August, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 August, 1999, 12:00am

Congratulations on your editorial headlined, 'Lesson for teachers' (South China Morning Post, August 19).

For many years I have been appalled continually by the standard of care and education offered by a large number of Hong Kong kindergartens.

I have heard accounts from parents and teachers alike of the most disturbing behaviour on the part of the supposed 'professionals' who run these establishments.

Let's face it, how could one possibly control, let alone 'educate', such large numbers of infants (who are not in any case developmentally ready for formal education) in a confined space, except by tyranny? I have heard of three-year-olds being smacked very hard, made fun of in front of the class, subjected to tirades of abuse and screamed at by an adult and even, quite incredibly, being shut in a dark cupboard as punishment, as a matter of course.

What misdemeanour could a little child, not long out of babyhood, possibly commit, to deserve such inhuman treatment? I shudder to think what effect this must have on these fragile young minds. Again, as in a previous letter, I have to mention our high rate of suicide here in Hong Kong.

I would like, through these columns, to beg the Education Department to commence an intensive investigation immediately into pre-school education, as a matter of extreme urgency. After all, would the Director of Education like to think of her children suffering in this way? Or indeed, Tung Chee-hwa his grandchildren? Our children enter the world totally vulnerable and reliant on us adults - we owe them a positive, happy and healthy start to life and the joys of learning.

Cramming them into unstimulating, overcrowded rooms and frightening them into conforming is a betrayal of their trust and their birthright.

DEIRDRE DAY New Territories