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Parents call for Kinderland principal to be fired, barred from pre-school industry

Some parents are calling for the principal of a Kinderland pre-school to be fired and barred from working in the pre-school sector, after videos of a teacher there allegedly manhandling pupils were circulated widely online on Monday.

Speaking to reporters outside the pre-school on Wednesday afternoon, a group of 12 parents said the principal, Ms Mahirah Yasid, should be dismissed for not doing enough in the alleged abuse incidents.

The parents, whose children were in the same class, turned up at the school at 1pm on Wednesday demanding to speak to Ms Yasid, but the principal was not there. They left frustrated at 3.30pm.

They were initially told by a Kinderland employee that the principal would be turning up. But the parents said they were later told to leave and make appointments separately with the pre-school.

The parents, all of whom took time off work to make the visit, were emotional when they spoke to the media. Many of them have withdrawn their children from the pre-school, or are looking to do so.

The teacher allegedly seen in the secretly filmed videos, 33-year-old Lin Min, appeared in court via video-link on Wednesday where she was charged with ill-treating a child.

She allegedly forced a 23-month-old girl into a lying position on the floor and poured water into her mouth.

A parent, whose daughter was seen in a video seemingly being forced to drink water, said the principal downplayed the incident when contacted about two weeks ago.

This was before the video was circulated.

Another parent said Ms Yasid did not take parents’ complaints, regarding suspected abuses of their children, seriously.

The father, who wanted to be known only as Mr Teo, said his son returned home from the pre-school with bite marks, scratches and bruises on multiple occasions in late 2021.

“When I raised these incidents with Ms Yasid, she denied anything was going on in school, saying my 18-month-old son had gotten injured on the way home,” said Mr Teo, who has since withdrawn his son from the pre-school.

The parents said they sought a meeting to ask the school to refund fees for upcoming enrichment classes, and make changes such as installing closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in all classrooms immediately.

Said one parent who is in her 30s and works in the semiconductor industry: “The school said it will install CCTV cameras in classrooms by 2024 but that is too late. It should be done right away to protect the welfare of the children.”

The parent, who declined to be named, added that the culture of the pre-school has to change such that it is more open and accountable.

The 12 parents also urged Kinderland to adopt more stringent criteria when selecting teachers, and pay closer attention to how they interact with children.

They intend to make another visit to the pre-school on Saturday at 10am to voice their concerns.

The Early Childhood Development Agency said on Wednesday that it is investigating the principal and pre-school operator Kinderland over their roles in the case.

Lin, who was arrested on Monday, has since been fired from the school.

She was one of two Kinderland teachers arrested this week for allegedly mistreating children under their care.

The second teacher, aged 48, was arrested on Tuesday after a video taken at Kinderland’s Sunshine Place branch in Choa Chu Kang emerged online.

It shows an adult hitting a boy on the head several times. The teacher has since been suspended.

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