Our report today outlining allegations that a 13-year-old girl was kept in a form of solitary confinement at school over a period of five months raises disturbing questions. A group of teachers has complained that the child was confined in a computer room and deprived of lessons. They say they were instructed by the school principal not to talk to the Form One pupil or offer her any comfort, even if she approached them for help. Such was their concern, they tape-recorded comments to this effect at a staff meeting. The principal, while stating that she cannot remember what she said, denies ever having told the teachers not to speak to the child. The full picture is not yet known. It is not even clear why the girl might have been subjected to such treatment. What is certain, however, is that the school management and the education authorities have a duty to find out precisely what occurred. We are not passing judgment on the principal. Whether she has acted improperly or not remains to be determined. But the allegations which have been made are extremely serious. They must be made the subject of the most thorough inquiry. The way in which the complaints have been handled so far gives rise to concern. The story of the girl's alleged confinement was published in the Chinese-language press in June. Education officials were alerted and attended the school. They swiftly reached the conclusion there was no major problem and that the school had been 'on the right track' in its handling of the girl. The officials were not, at that time, aware of the tape-recording. But it is reasonable to question whether their inquiry was comprehensive enough. Certainly, the teachers did not think so. We are pleased to note, however, that the situation will not end there. Having been informed of the existence of the tape, education officials say further inquiries will be conducted - albeit by the school's sponsoring body rather than the government. Every effort must be made to establish what happened. Part of the problem is the system which places so much responsibility in the hands of school management. Principals are given too much power over staff and pupils. In this respect, there is a lack of accountability. There should be put in place more effective channels which parents and teachers can use to air their grievances. It is unacceptable that the teachers in this case felt their best option was to draw attention to the case through the media. Education officials are scrupulous in monitoring students' academic performance, but lack the ability to deal adequately with other problems which arise. When allegations of this nature have been made, there is no excuse for failing to conduct a full, fair, and effective investigation.