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China to reveal most dangerous schools
By Tan Yingzi (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-07-13 08:09

A list of the safest and most dangerous school buildings in China will be revealed in October, it was announced at the weekend.

It will be compiled from the findings of checks being carried out at 388,000 buildings across the country, part of a three-year project the Ministry of Education has dubbed an "urgent task".

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Both hard and digital records of the safety management project will be published to ensure efficiency, the ministry said on its website.

"This project is an urgent political task, a project involving human life that should be treated with the utmost care and one that cannot be delayed," said Lu Xin, vice-education minister and director of the School Building Safety Project, at a recent conference. "We must complete it within the time limit and ensure the best possible quality."

After last year's devastating Sichuan earthquake destroyed or damaged 11,687 schools, leaving 5,335 students dead or missing and 546 disabled, the central government adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards shoddy school construction.

In May, the State Council launched a scheme to make sure all school buildings were capable of withstanding a natural disaster. Official data show nearly 228 million students attended 388,000 primary and secondary schools last year.

In the less developed western pasts of China, especially in rural areas, many schools are of poor construction, mainly due to a lack of money during the building rush that followed the introduction of the compulsory nine-year education system in the 1990s.

The central government has set aside 8 billion yuan ($1.2 billion) for the project, while provincial authorities have been urged to offer extra financial support.

A special taskforce has been set up to oversee the reinforcement scheme to make sure the cash is spent properly and to ensure transparency, the ministry said.

Provincial and city leaders have also been warned of the harsh consequences they face if any incident involving unsafe school structures occur in their administrative regions or under their management, it added.