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China to overhaul school safety after six children trampled to death
Latest Updated by 2006-11-21 08:57:18
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The Chinese government will tighten safety provisions in elementary and secondary schools after six children were trampled to death at a school in east China.

Local education departments should conduct thorough inspections of corridors and stairways and check school buildings, canteens, dormitories and bathrooms, Education Minister Zhou Ji said Monday at a teleconference on the school administration.

Six middle school students, five boys and a girl aged 12 and 13,died and 39 were injured in east China's Jiangxi Province on Saturday evening.

"The root of the accident lies in the school's faulty management," Zhou said. "The accident has taught us a hard lesson, and exposed serious safety risks in schools."

The ministry would evaluate the work of school principals, who played a key role in safety and had ultimate responsibility for safety administration, Zhou said.

Meanwhile, Vice Minister of Health Jiang Zuojun told the meeting that school hygiene standards were "alarming".

"More than 70 percent of public health incidents occur in schools and more than 80 percent involve the spread of infections diseases," Jiang said.

Sanitary conditions at most schools in rural China were bad, and threatened food and drinking water safety. "Food poisoning and diseases caused by unsanitary water occur frequently," Jiang said.

Last month, 18 children fell ill after eating lunch in a kindergarten in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and earlier in October 56 children between three and six years old fell ill after eating at a nursery school in southern China's Jiangxi province.

Principals who failed to meet the standards of their posts would be demoted and those whose dereliction of duty or misconduct caused accidents will be seriously punished, Zhou Ji said.

The local government of Jiujiang City, where the tragedy occurred, appears to be holding the school responsible for the incident. The school principal has been detained by the local authorities.

Earlier this month, a primary school principal in southwest China was sacked over a food poisoning incident in late September that affected 92 pupils, including 23 who were hospitalized.

Jiang called for more communication and coordination between health and education departments to strengthen disease prevention and outbreak monitoring in schools.

According to the Education Ministry, China has more than 450,000 elementary and secondary schools with more than 210 million students and over 120,000 kindergartens with 22 million children.

Zhou also called for immediate measures to eliminate safety risks involving food poisoning, student fights and other mass incidents.

Editor: Donald

By: Source: China View website
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