Drowning has become the No.1 cause of accidental death among
kindergarten, primary and middle school students this year,
according to a report from the Ministry of Education. As of Monday,
85 children had died in 33 separate accidents, a sharp increase
compared to last year's 18 deaths.
Road accidents, the top killer in 2004 and second last year,
remain the second biggest cause of death, killing 51 and injuring
126. Natural disasters, last year's top cause of death, claiming
105 lives, dropped to fourth this year, said the report released
Nationwide, a total of 188 students have lost their lives and
1,266 been injured so far, already up from last year's total death
toll of 178, but lower than 2004's 231.
Zheng Zengyi, deputy director of the ministry's elementary
education department, attributed the sharp increase in drowning
deaths to this year's hot weather.
He said, after a ministry press briefing yesterday, that very
few students drowned in swimming pools, but "because hot weather
hit most of China this summer, many students, especially those in
rural areas, swam in lakes, rivers and reservoirs where no
lifesaving facilities exist."
On July 11, in one incident, five primary school children died
in a river in Gaochao Village, Jinyun County in southeast China's
Zhejiang Province, Xinhua News Agency
"We've urged schools nationwide to strictly follow the newly
implemented School Safety Regulation," Zheng said, after adding
that students' lack of safety education is another factor.
The regulation, which took effect on September 1, clearly spells
out that kindergarten, primary and middle schools nationwide should
offer students safety education on swimming in lakes, rivers and
The regulation also bans students from undertaking physical
training, such as morning exercises, on streets or major roads.
Public security and traffic departments should mark crossings at
school gates and set up traffic signs, traffic lights and
pedestrian overpasses as deemed expedient and necessary.
Jointly issued by 10 ministries including the Ministry of
Education, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of
Communications and the Ministry of Health, the regulation is the
first of its kind since 1949.
"The regulation stipulates specific requirements for all
departments concerned," said Wang Xuming, spokesman of the Ministry
of Education. "We're expecting a decline in student casualties
after the regulation is implemented."
Other measures stipulate that health departments should
regularly check food and water quality in schools; regular drills
should be conducted every term teaching students how to behave in
case of fires, floods or earthquakes; and Internet cafes should be
located at least 200 meters away from schools.
School principals violating these regulations will receive
disciplinary punishment or face prosecution for major
(China Daily September 14, 2006)