China has launched a three-year program that aims to examine each and every school building across the country for safety flaws and reinforce those in earthquake-prone areas for the first step.
"We must make sure all primary and middle school buildings are safe and strong, and will be able to pass the test of history," State Council Liu Yandong told a national tele-conference Friday.
Liu, who is also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said all local governments should be responsible for building safer schools, or fixing those that were already standing, so that the buildings could stand up to problems such as natural disasters.
"To make sure that school buildings are safe places has a significant bearing on the fundamental interests of the people, and thus social stability," Liu said.
Liu asked education regulators and governmental supervisors to keep detailed safety records on each school building nationwide, which would be included in an electronic database of all primary and middle schools.
She said the government would pay for safety upgrades for schools in areas prone to quakes or geological disasters.
The Sichuan government announced Thursday that 5,335 students had been confirmed killed or missing after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake hit the populous southwestern province on May 12 last year.
Laws passed shortly thereafter meant that public buildings such as schools and hospitals were required to withstand quakes of at least 8.0 magnitude. The revised laws took effect this May 1.
(Xinhua News Agency May 8, 2009)