The Ministry of Education and Training has urged educational departments and local authorities to quickly re-examine the facilities standards at all private pre-schools to assure the safety of children, head of the ministry's Preschool Education Department Nguyen Ba Minh has said.

Local educational authorities must take responsibility for the implementation of safety regulations at their local pre-schools. Any schools found lacking equipment to secure children's safety would be shut down, he said.

The move followed a number of scandals occurring at private pre-schools, causing concern for parents who seek more safety measures.

Early this month, a one-year-old girl suddenly died after having lunch at Little Angels Private Pre-school in Hanoi's Long Bien District.

Another two-year-old boy drowned in a manhole at Nghi Truong Commune's Pre-school in central Nghe An Province.

"I have to send my son to a private pre-school for work, as all public pre-schools near my house refuse to take children under two," Nguyen Minh Huong, mother of a one-year-old son said.

"I have checked the school's facilities and curriculum carefully, but honestly, I don't feel quite comfortable with the fact that a teacher would be in charge of four kids. Children are very naughty," she said.

In the past several years, there has also been an explosion of private pre-schools in big cities due to high demand by city parents. In Hanoi, there are more than 900 pre-schools (202 of which are private) not including thousands of groups temporarily opening as private businesses.

In HCM City, the number of private pre-schools is 411. Parents must pay between 1.6-3.5 million VND (75-164 USD) per month for each child.

Hoang Thanh Huong, head of the Hanoi Department of Education and Training's pre-school education division said these kinds of pre-schools, without proper licences and standards of facilities, are usually located in crowded residential areas.

The professional knowledge of the teaching staff at these pre-schools remained low, she also said.

According to Huong, the department has strengthened inspections over the operation of private pre-schools with three inspections per academic year.

The standards of pre-school teachers should be higher and private pre-schools should be encouraged to open in urban areas to prevent unlicensed business groups from operating.-VNA