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China speeds repairs to snow-damaged schools
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China has ordered provinces affected by this winter's severe weather to expedite repairs to damaged schools to ensure the safety of students and teachers as the spring term kicks off.

Repair work should be thoroughly detailed, including desks, equipment for science experiments, pipes, faucets and bounding walls, a circular jointly released on Monday by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Education (MOE) said.

Last month, China allocated a special fund of 2.14 billion yuan (about 300 million U.S. dollars) to restore rural primary and middle schools. Disaster-stricken rural areas should have priority for the special fund, the circular said.

Money should be delivered to disaster-stricken counties in 20 working days and counties should designate specific schools for fund use within 15 workings days and supervise the repair work, said the circular.

Storms rendered 3.5 million square meters of school buildings unsafe.

The ministry was concerned about the structural safety of schools in snow-stricken areas, Jiang Peimin, director with the MOE, said last month.

Snow forced more than 1,300 primary and middle schools in southern and central China to postpone the new semester, affecting more than 280,000 students, according to the MOE.

(Xinhua News Agency, March 4, 2008)

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