Medicine scandal shows child-care mismanagement

Some private name-brand kindergartens are accused of giving children unauthorized prescription medicine, revealing chaos in kindergarten management, experts said.

One such kindergarten in Yichang, Hubei province, was being investigated on Monday after parents claimed their children were given unauthorized anti-viral drugs.

The Xingang Kindergarten in Yichang belongs to Hoing Education Group in Beijing, which says it owns more than 1,000 kindergartens in China and is the largest early-childhood enterprise in the country.

Earlier media reports revealed similar cases in two kindergartens in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, and one other in Jilin province.

The two kindergartens in Xi'an, Feng Yun and Hong Ji, operate under the Shaanxi Soong Ching Ling Foundation.

Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday that Zhang Ying, deputy secretary-general of the Shaanxi Soong Ching Ling Foundation, said that the foundation has now prohibited the two Xi'an kindergartens from using its name.

Since March 6, four kindergartens have been investigated for allegedly giving children unauthorized medication in Xi'an, Jilin and Yichang. Fanglin Kindergarten in Jilin is one branch of the Fanglin Education Group.

All four kindergartens were closed last week after allegations that they gave children unauthorized anti-viral drugs.

The local education bureau said the kindergartens gave some children the prescription medicine moroxydine ABOB without informing parents. The schools gave the students the drugs allegedly to keep them from catching cold or other illnesses in order to improve attendance.

Xinhua News Agency reported that some of the children who were given the drugs contracted leg pains, nosebleeds, itchy skin and inflammation in the genital areas.

Authorities have arranged physical examinations for more than 2,200 children in these kindergartens.

Meanwhile, police have detained eight people in the case as of Monday, Xinhua said.

Wu Rongrong, a project leader of Beijing Yirenping Center, an NGO dedicated to promoting social justice and public health, said that the incidents have revealed problematic management in the early-childhood education market.

"Authorities should impose stricter supervision over the early-childhood education market," Wu said.

A deputy director of a kindergarten in Beijing's Haidian district who identified herself only as Liu said a kindergarten's brand name can attract students.

"Some private kindergartens can join an education group easily only if they have money. However, the education group does not take the responsibility to guide the management," Liu said. Private kindergartens need to gain profit by hiring more students and the name of the group is a good strategy, she added.

Li Jing, the deputy director of Sunny High Scope Kindergarten, a private kindergarten in Beijing, said that the management of big-name kindergartens is usually chaotic and the private early-childhood education market needs more oversight.