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People's Daily Online>>China Society

School bus safety in fast lane

By Chen Jia and Cheng Yingqi (China Daily)

10:00, December 29, 2011

Xu Zhongmei, an officer at the Shuijiahu police station in Changfeng county, Anhui province, teaches students from a local kindergarten how to use the seat belt in a school bus on Monday. (Liu Junxi / Xinhua)

BEIJING - The safety of schools and school buses is now at the top of the agenda for China's education authority.

"The central government's fiscal investment on renovating school buildings has hit 28 billion yuan ($4.4 billion) in the last three years," Yuan Guiren, minister of education, said at a bimonthly session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee on Wednesday.

"Fiscal support from local governments has been more than 200 billion yuan in the past three years," he said.

The renovation projects were launched after the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, during which 5,300 students died or went missing and 11,687 schools were destroyed or damaged.

Many parents alleged that the schools collapsed because of "tofu" construction, a term used to describe buildings that use substandard cement and have no steel bars for reinforcement.

Yuan also said that his ministry will accelerate the establishment of regulations for school bus safety.

The move comes after 19 preschoolers and two adults died on an overcrowded school bus on Nov 16.

In a more recent case, five students died after an overloaded minivan with mostly students aboard plunged into a valley in Southwest China's Yunnan province on Saturday.

On Monday, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology published four draft national standards on school bus safety.

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