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Chinese Schools Not That Safe: Ministry
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The shooting in Virginia has thrown into focus campus security in China.


The Ministry of Education last month released the country's first annual report on campus safety, suggesting Chinese schools were not as safe as parents would hope.


The report said among all incidents that affected kindergartens, primary and middle schools last year, about 40 percent took place on campus.


Crimes, including kidnappings, arson attacks, sexual assaults and stabbings, accounted for roughly half of campus incidents. Fistfights, stampedes and buildings collapsing made up the rest.


"Crimes on campus rose last year, and the major reason was poor school management," the report said.


A man attacked a group of pupils in front of a school gate in Urumqi, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region last December, killing two and injuring four others.


And in May, another man set fire to a kindergarten in Central China's Henan Province, killing three children and wounding 14 others. Both men have been sentenced to death.


In addition, the report said 32 percent of the total incidents involving students happened while they were on their way to school, with road accidents the biggest danger; followed by drownings in rivers, lakes or reservoirs and suicide from carbon monoxide poisoning.


The report did not give specific figures for the number of incidents or students killed last year, but previous ministry figures showed that a total of 188 students lost their lives and 1,266 were injured in 110 incidents from last January to September.


In 2005, a total of 178 students were killed and 1,089 injured in 41 incidents, and the corresponding figure in 2004 was 231 killed and 4,655 injured in 148 cases.


Faced with this gloomy picture, the ministry said it would launch a campus safety campaign.


As more than 70 percent of the incidents took place in rural areas, the ministry said the campaign would focus on rural schools, especially boarding schools. It said campus canteens, toilets and drinking water facilities must also meet safety standards.


The Ministry also promised to improve cooperation with police and communication departments for a nationwide overhaul of school transport vehicles.


(China Daily April 18, 2007)

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