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Costly student uniform sparks outrage

(China Daily)

09:05, September 06, 2011


Children listen attentively during a mathematics class at Xiehe Kindergarten in Guangzhou on Sept 2. The school is reported to have asked parents to buy 27 items of uniform for each child. WU LU / FOR CHINA DAILY


GUANGZHOU - A kindergarten has come under fire for asking parents of its pupils to spend 1,065 yuan ($170) on uniforms ahead of the new semester.

Xiehe Kindergarten in Guangzhou's Liwan district sent out a notice urging parents to fill in a form with the sizes of their children and promising to buy 27 items to be worn after classes resumed on Sept 1.

The package includes underwear and outfits ranging from summer shorts to winner coats.

The purchasing list aroused much controversy among netizens after it was posted online by a parent. Many accused the kindergarten of violating regulations and rules to make a profit.

"I'm worried my daughter won't receive fair treatment at the kindergarten if I refuse to buy the uniforms," said a concerned mother who did not want to be identified.

An official at Guangzhou's bureau of education said his departments have never required children to wear uniforms at preschools.

"The kindergarten has broken the rules by asking its students to purchase so many items," said the official, who refused to be named. He promised to launch an investigation.

Xiehe is the first preschool in this southern metropolis to ask parents to buy such a large selection of uniforms.

Zhou Zhifen, the principal, admitted her kindergarten asked parents to buy 27 items plus a school bag at the beginning of the new term. However, she denied parents were forced to comply.

"Most parents of the 500 children at the kindergarten have purchased the uniforms of their own accord," she said. "The kids need to buy the uniforms, as they can be worn in four seasons, and some kids have to change several times a day when their clothes are dirty or soaked with sweat."

In addition to developing the kindergarten's culture, she added that the uniforms can help prevent children from striving to keep up with each other's wardrobes.

Wang Yuchen, a 29-year-old office worker, said kindergartens might ask parents to purchase uniforms, but the fees collected should be reasonable.

"I don't think a kindergarten pupil needs to buy 27 items that are so expensive," said the mother of a 2-year-old girl, who also did not want to be identified.

Chen Tianxiong, a lawyer in Guangzhou, said the kindergarten has collected fees arbitrarily.

"Many other schools and kindergartens will follow suit if such violations of the rules aren't corrected or punished," he said.

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