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Government leaders to be held accountable for school safety

Updated: 2013-11-14 01:07
By Zhao Xinying ( China Daily)

Government leaders to be held accountable for school safety

A student binds up a mock wound in a medical aid exercise in Shanghai on Saturday. Lai Xinlin / For China Daily

Local government leaders should take the main responsibility for campus safety at primary and middle schools, the Ministry of Education said on Wednesday.

The ministry made the announcement on their website a day after the State Council approved a regulation on campus safety, which makes local government officials accountable for safety matters including shoddy school construction, security loopholes and the misuse of funds for maintaining facilities.

Further, local government leaders will be punished if incidents occur as a result of their neglect of duty.

Local government and school officials will be required to sign lifetime responsibility statements, the ministry said, making the officials responsible for campus safety for life, even after they have left their posts.

Chu Zhaohui, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Education Sciences, said most primary and middle schools in the country are run by local governments, so they should be held accountable for any events that occur.

"But for a long time, people have tended to think that principals rather than local governments should be responsible for security incidents at schools," he said, adding that principals should also take some responsibility, but government leaders should be punished first.

"The regulation clearly assigns responsibility for campus safety to the appropriate people," he said.

The regulation was released because campus safety has drawn public concern, especially after many students were killed when a number of school buildings collapsed during the devastating Sichuan earthquake in 2008.

In recent years, a number of students have been killed or injured because of unsafe school buildings.

On Nov 6, a wall beside a primary school in Luzhou, Sichuan province, collapsed, killing three students and injuring six others.

On Oct 23, a wall of a primary school in Zhenxiong county, Yunnan province, collapsed, killing two students and injuring four.

In December 2012, two students were killed after a wall collapsed at a rural primary school in Guangdong province.

According to the regulation, buildings and facilities of all primary and middle schools should be examined every six months to screen potential hazards.

Qualified third-party agencies should also be brought in to assess security standards in schools and record the results for future review.

On April 1, 2009, the State Council approved a regulation on campus safety at primary and middle schools making quality inspections a requirement.

According to the Ministry of Education, from 2009 to 2012, about 2.17 million buildings of 375,000 schools have been investigated and 140,000 schools were renovated and reinforced.

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