Xinhua says an initial investigation found that the seven-seater van — carrying 15 children and two adults — was speeding on a rural road that was undergoing repairs and ended up in a 3-meter (yard)-deep pond Monday morning.
Three children died at the scene, while eight others died later in hospital.
Most of the victims were the children of migrant workers and lived with their grandparents.
Xinhua said Tuesday that the privately run kindergarten had operated without a license and officials have ordered it closed.
According to the BBC, four of the children survived the crash in Jiangxi:
Many vehicles in rural parts of China are badly maintained.
In November last year, the deaths of 18 young children in a bus crash caused public outrage and led authorities to promise more money for school bus services.
It is unclear what caused this latest accident, but police have detained the driver of the van.
State broadcaster China Central Television suggested the van was travelling too fast and had swerved to avoid a parked vehicle before crashing.
The Ministry of Education also commented on the recent string of incidents involving children, from the Wall Street Journal:
In a circular issued on Tuesday, the ministry described such events as “heartbreaking” and singled out the Monday crash involving a school van from a privately owned kindergarten in China’s southeastern Jiangxi province.
The ministry’s statement outlined steps aimed at increasing protection offered to young children, calling for increased safeguards against traffic accidents, greater security at schools and stepped-up vigilance during the winter months to prevent death and injury from fires, carbon monoxide poisoning and accidents related to ice skating.
The ministry said schools should carry out safety education programs ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday—a period when skating and fireworks-related accidents are common.