An additional 30,000 preschool places will be added in Beijing to meet the rising demand, while supervision of kindergarten management will be improved to provide a safer environment for pupils, acting Mayor Chen Jining said on Wednesday.
He disclosed the plan while delivering the Government Work Report at the opening ceremony of the first session of the 15th Beijing People's Congress.
Chen said the city government will build more kindergartens with qualified facilities, reasonable tuition fees and extensive enrollment.
"The responsibilities of kindergarten operators should be strengthened, while the government must steer preschool education," he said.
"Meanwhile, parents will be encouraged to play a bigger part in the management of kindergartens," he added.
Preschool education has been a hot issue across the city, while management and safety of the industry aroused public attention when a teacher at a RYB Education kindergarten in Chaoyang district was detained on suspicion of child abuse in November.
After that incident, Beijing launched safety inspections of all kindergartens, and the Ministry of Education said it would push for legislation on preschool education to provide legal guarantees for the operation and management of such institutions.
The shortage of teachers is another headache for the government and kindergartens.
The government will boost the number of qualified teachers by adding 2,350 places at normal schools in 2018, and it plans to maintain that level for the next five years, according to the Beijing Education Commission.
Li Xuewei, president of Beijing Union University and a member of the Beijing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said his college will accelerate the education of preschool teachers. "We enrolled 400 additional students with preschool education majors this year," he said.
Zhu Min, another member of the committee who runs a kindergarten in Beijing, said the authority should consider giving subsidies to teachers at private kindergartens to boost their salaries.
Xu Zewei, a deputy to the people's congress, applauded the move, saying he has kept his eye on kindergarten management for a long time.
"Authorities need to clarify the responsibilities and duties of teachers and principals to avoid passing the buck when accidents happen," he said.
He agreed to establish parent committees or select parent representatives to supervise the daily operation of kindergartens, saying it will be better for children's growth.
Contact the writers at email@example.com