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People's Daily Online>>China Society

School bus safety in fast lane (2)

By Chen Jia and Cheng Yingqi (China Daily)

10:01, December 29, 2011

However, Zhang Yutang, a retired professor of education at Sichuan Normal University and an expert on student safety, said safer buses do not necessarily equate to better protection of students.

"I visited many schools in Sichuan. In most rural regions, the road is barely one meter wide, hardly enough space for a car to pass, not to mention buses," Zhang said.

"Without better road conditions and better payment for bus drivers, you can never prevent accidents," he said.

According to Zhang's research, almost all the bus drivers are part-time workers hired by rural schools and their incomes vary from 400 yuan to 800 yuan a month.

"All the drivers are thinking of delivering the students as soon as possible so that they can have more time to take another job. So they are not safety conscious at all," he said. "If they were paid 2,000 yuan a month, the situation would be quite different."

"As for the case in Yunnan, we have so many steep mountains and dangerous roads, so I believe repairing the roads is necessary," said Li Tianfeng, a professor at Yunnan Normal University.

"We have to raise the security awareness of students and teachers. Also, the teachers are facing great dangers too, because many of them travel through the precipitous mountains on their motorized bicycles every day," she said.

Wang Xuming, former spokesman of the Ministry of Education, said on his micro blog that the draft regulations on school buses was "one of the two issues that bring warmth" to his heart.

"One is that the government launched a project to provide nutritious meals to children in rural areas in western regions, the other is the regulations aiming to make school buses safer. Without making the children healthier and safer, it is meaningless to talk about education."

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