China’s education authority is moving to strengthen oversight of preschools with a flurry of measures, including a requirement for more cameras in classrooms, following several highly publicized child abuse scandals in recent months.
But experts warn the move could be counterproductive as it will deepen distrust between schools and parents, and drive many small preschools out of business, exacerbating the current shortage of such facilities.
Preschools in the Chinese capital have been ordered to install more surveillance cameras “to have all areas covered and leave no corners without surveillance,” the Beijing Youth Daily recently reported, citing municipal education authorities.
The mandate came just two weeks after an interagency committee under the country’s cabinet, known as the Education Inspection Committee of the State Council, ordered a nationwide inspection on Nov. 24 for potential violation at such facilities.
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In the Chinese capital, each government inspector is assigned to oversee five preschools and will be held responsible for their operations, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.
On the surface, these measures sound promising, but regulators have actually failed to address the real issues by targeting only teachers, according to academics and industry insiders.
The intensified surveillance of teachers is likely to deepen distrust between teachers and parents, according to Zhang Yan, a professor of education studies at Beijing Normal University.
“These measures could only take away the teachers’ passion and motivation. It will force them to protect themselves, with little regard of what is best for the children,” she said.
The requirement for additional cameras and other infrastructure upgrades means fewer preschools will be able to qualify for licenses, exacerbating the shortage of such schools, particularly affordable schools for low-income families, she warned.