Kinderland removes Woodlands Mart branch principal

Preschool says communications channels 'open', but parents claim otherwise.

Fiona Tan | August 31, 2023, 06:39 PM



Kinderland has removed the principal at its Woodlands Mart branch.

Principal removed

The Woodlands Mart branch was recently embroiled in controversy after videos of a preschool teacher allegedly abusing some of the children went viral on social media on Aug. 28, 2023.

In an Aug. 31 statement posted on Instagram and Facebook, Kinderland said the principal has been removed from "her current duties", pending the outcome of the investigations into the alleged abuse.

Kinderland Singapore general manager Seet Lee Kiang told The Straits Times that the principal Mahirah Yasid will no longer be allowed to participate in activities relating to children

Seet said Mahirah has been redeployed to other roles in the company since Aug. 30.

Communication channels remain open

In its Aug. 31 statement, Kinderland appealed to the public to refrain from speculation and added that they will share updates "along the way".

Kinderland said it is monitoring the well-being of the affected children and that counselling and additional support will be offered to the parents of the affected classes.

It said it remains accountable to the parents and that its communication channels "remain open" for them and the public to contact them "at any point in time".

"These include face-to-face meetings for our parents, emails, texts, phone calls and messages on our online channels."

Kinderland apologised to the parents and public "for the worry and anxiety that the recent videos have caused".

It added: "Child safety and well-being remain our utmost priority."

Image from Kinderland Singapore/Facebook.

Parents issue statement

However, several parents whose children are enrolled in the Woodlands Mart Kinderland preschool are claiming that they have not heard nor received an apology from the preschool.

The group of 15 parents apparently issued a collective statement on Aug. 30 and it was shared on the Childcare in Singapore Facebook group at 9:30am on Aug. 31.

According to the statement, the group of 15 parents includes the parents of two of the alleged abuse victims in the viral videos.

All of their children are enrolled in the same class as the alleged victims.

"Blindsided and deeply disappointed"

The parents claimed that Kinderland has not reached out nor extended their apologies to them since the alleged abuse came to light on Aug. 28.

"We are blindsided and deeply disappointed by the statement released by Kinderland in which mentioned that they had reached out to the parents of affected children and were grateful to parents who have accepted their apologies and remedial measures."

They said this was contrary to what Kinderland said in its Aug. 30 statement, which said:

"We have also reached out to the parents of the affected children. We are profoundly grateful to the parents who have accepted our apology and remedial measures."

Told to come back another day

Given such circumstances, the parents have taken the matter into their own hands.

They said in their statement that they have reached out to Kinderland Woodlands Mart at 1pm on Aug. 30 to ask for an explanation and solutions.

Chinese media Shin Min Daily News reported that at least 13 parents went to the preschool to meet Mahirah that day.

They were made to wait in a classroom for at least two hours but to no avail.

The parents told Shin Min that the Kinderland staff did not tell them anything other than that investigations were underway.

According to the parents' statement, the Kinderland Woodlands Mart parents relations and enrolment manager told them to "come back on another day".

"We feel that this shows a lack of compassion and understanding for the trauma that our children had gone through," the parents said.

"None of us have indicated to the centre's parents relations and enrolment manager that we have accepted any apology."

Parents make three pleas

In response, the parents said they informed the manager that they will return to Kinderland Woodlands Mart "on a specific date and time to get the Kinderland HQ to give an explanation to parents of the affected children in the same class".

According to Shin Min, the parents plan to return to the preschool on Sep. 2.

The parents have made three requests, which include calling for a thorough investigation into the incident and for all responsible parties to be held accountable.

They are also suggesting that policies and procedures be implemented to prevent abuse, such as the immediate installation of CCTV cameras.

Lastly, they are calling for the Kinderland Woodlands Mart principal to be dismissed and barred from the preschool sector.

Image from Childcare in Singapore/Facebook.

Mahira emailed parents on Aug. 31

In a post on the Childcare in Singapore Facebook group at 4:52pm on Aug. 31, Mahira appeared to have sent an email to the parents earlier at 1:57pm that day.

She informed them of the counselling and other support options available to them.

Mothership has reached out to Kinderland and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) for comment.

Image from Childcare in Singapore/Facebook.

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Top image by Julia Yee and from Childcare in Singapore/Facebook