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School in Vietnam closed for torturing autistic students
Publication Date : 24-07-2014
HCM City authorities have shut down an illegal school for autistic children after it was found to be torturing its students.
The HCM City Department of Education and Training decided to close the Anh Vuong Special Primary School in Tan Binh District after the city's inspectors and education officials examined the facility on Monday.
Authorities entered the school after Thanh Nien (Young People) Newspaper reported on the abuses. The newspaper also posted a video clip of the school teachers' use of torture and corporal punishment.
Images captured with a hidden camera by a Thanh Nien reporter who spent two weeks working undercover at the school showed that the autistic children were routinely beaten and tortured whenever they displeased their teachers.
A part of the video showed a teacher accusing one student of eating his lunch too slowly. The teacher pulled him out of seat by the collar and dragged him to a fish tank outside. "Go eat fish. Go eat fish," the teacher said, as she dealt heavy slaps to his face.
The school has 30 students aged seven and up. Their families have to pay between US$200-370 per month for tuition and board.
The grandmother of one students told Thanh Nien that she drove in from the neighbouring Long An province to take her grandson home immediately after reading the story.
"Reading the story broke my heart," she said. "Saving every penny to send him to the school, we never would have dreamed that he would be badly beaten. He can only speak a little bit, maybe that's why he couldn't tell us about the torture," she said.
Tran Thi Kim Thanh, Deputy Director of the municipal Education and Training Department, told VnExpress online newspaper the school lacked a license to operate such a facility.
Last year, Anh Vuong Special Primary had its school licence revoked. Since then, it has been operating as a limited liability company, licensed by the municipal Department of Planning and Investment to provide care for the elderly.
The school would be dissolved, she said.
She added that local authorities should also take responsibility for loose management that led to the existence of the school.
Chief of the secretariat of the HCM City's People's Committee Vo Van Luan told Thanh Nien that the committee would strictly punish those involved in the case and the city would inspect operation of all teaching centres for disabled children, including autistic children.
All the students will either be moved to legal special centres or schools for autistic children, or they will return home to their families.
Lawyer Nguyen Minh Thuan of Sai Gon Law Company told Thanh Nien that clips and images recorded could serve as evidence in a case that charged the school's staff with torture and child abuse, both of which were criminal violations.
Under the current regulations, caregivers found guilty of abusing the elderly, children, pregnant women or people with disabilities can be sentenced to 1-3 years in prison.
Earlier this year, two teachers at a private kindergarten in Thu Duc District received three years each for torturing their students. The case came to light after Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper posted a video clip of the teachers' use of horrific punishment in their classrooms.