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China Pushes Kindergarten Security

After experiencing two fatal kindergarten-related tragedies in early August, China is intensifying efforts to ensure children's health and security in kindergartens across the country.

"All kindergartens, especially privately run ones, must draw up strict safety regulations, adopt a responsibility system for administrative personnel and set up a health care system to improve hygiene," the Ministry of Education said in an urgent circular.

The National Education Supervision and Guidance Group has made kindergarten security the top priority of this year's work, the ministry said.

Buses used to transport children must receive regular safety checks and the drivers must obtain licenses and register with local education authorities before working, the ministry said.

All kindergarten staff, including sponsors, administrative personnel and teachers, have been directed to study carefully and observe strictly the national regulations on kindergarten management.

The ministry indicated that kindergartens should offer medical checkups and on-the-job training to all staff members, and dismiss unqualified personnel.

The ministry also ordered all local governments to carry out a general overhaul of kindergarten security across the country, including classrooms, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, teaching materials, toys, dining halls, food, fire prevention equipment, transportation and surrounding environment.

Local governments must also examine the qualifications and the physical and mental health of kindergarten staff in order to forestall problems.

On August 4, a gatekeeper at the kindergarten run by the No. 1 Hospital of Peking University stabbed 15 children aged from two to six, as well as three teachers. The attack left one child dead, and two other children and a teacher seriously wounded.

Several days later, a kindergarten building in central China's Henan Province collapsed, killing two children and hospitalizing 28 others.

(Xinhua News Agency August 19, 2004)

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