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March 27, 2010

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Home » Metro » Education

Plan to replace illegal kindergartens

WHILE the sun shone brightly outside yesterday, one group of pre-school children were confined to a rundown apartment in suburban Fengxian District with no lights, desks or chairs.

The children, aged three to six, were pupils at one of the city's many illegal kindergartens.

Outside, one slide and two shabby seesaws on a small piece of land were the only recreational facilities.

"Parents just need to show their ID cards and their children's vaccination record cards for admission," said an official at the kindergarten in Fengxian's Gaoqiao Village. He declined to be named.

Illegal kindergartens with poor facilities in rented apartments are common in the city's suburbs, where many migrants live. They are mainly filled with migrant children turned down by local kindergartens because of overcrowding or whose families cannot afford the cost of legal ones. There are fewer legal kindergartens than in downtown areas.

The Gaoqiao Village kindergarten charges 850 yuan (US$124.5) a semester, while many legal kindergartens charge up to 2,000 yuan.

"I just needed someone to look after my son when I'm at work, no matter it's legal or not," said Shen Hailong from Henan Province.

The city plans to set up child day-care centers to accommodate pre-school migrant children in the suburbs as a solution to the problem.

Ni Minjing, a Shanghai Education Commission official in charge of elementary education, said: "We have tried to address the difficulty of pre-school children care by setting up more kindergartens in the suburbs. But we found that many migrant parents feel it's too expensive to send their children to kindergartens."

Ni said child day-care centers would be a feasible solution, considering that many migrant parents had a high demand for nursing at low cost instead of education or recreational functions which cost a great deal more.

Different from traditional kindergartens, the day-care centers would be mainly located in residents' houses with less teaching and leisure facilities to reduce the cost.

But unlike illegal ones, basic hygiene conditions and safety measures at the centers would be guaranteed and supervised by the city government.

"The city and district government will subsidize qualified day-care centers," Ni said. "The authorities will launch checks on food quality, staff health and anti-fire facilities in the day-care centers from time to time."

Shanghai has been on a kindergarten building spree to tackle the baby boom which began in in 2006. However, soaring demand has far exceeded the erection of new buildings.

Shanghai has about 100,000 migrant children aged three to six with nearly half of them in the suburbs.


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