- Language Tips
The Guangzhou government will instigate a comprehensive package of trial regulations to improve security at primary and secondary schools from April 1.
The move will set a precedent in the country by prescribing detailed standards for the equipment used on school buses and by establishing road privileges for school buses.
Under the scheme, the buses will have to be equipped with a global positioning system traveling data recorder and other safety features, including handrails, seat belts, fire extinguishers and first-aid kits.
At least one full-time safety official should also be present on each bus to supervise students during journeys.
School buses in Guangzhou will also be allowed to use local bus lanes and no vehicle will be permitted to pass a school bus when it has stopped to load or unload students.
"Guangzhou is not the first city to issue campus security regulations, but its package is more detailed than in any other city," said Lin Qi, deputy director of the legislative affairs office of the Guangzhou city government.
For example, whereas other cities have only promised to strengthen supervision of noise levels on school grounds, the Guangzhou government has specified that the noise level on its campuses should not exceed 70 decibels by day or 55 decibels at night.
Shen Ziming, chief superintendent of the Guangzhou Bureau of Education, added that the package is "forward-looking".
For example, the trial regulations highlight a number of "must-nots" for vocational secondary schools. The schools must not send first graders to internships, send students to work at commercial entertainment venues such as bars and night clubs, or hire agencies to arrange internships.
"Few vocational secondary schools in Guangzhou indulge in such behavior. But we think it necessary to highlight them in our trial regulations as a preventive measure," said Shen.
The government will fine law breakers heavily under the new regulations. If public schools refuse to correct errors after receiving warnings, they will face a maximum fine of 30,000 yuan ($4,758). Meanwhile, the legal owners or operators of private schools will face the same fine and be barred from participating in education for five years.
"The schools will need help from the government to make adjustments and conform to the new rules," said Zhu Hongbin, director of the administrative office of Yaobao School, affiliated with Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou.
"For example, schools will need to invest a lot to purchase or upgrade school buses to comply with the new standards. I hope the government can subsidize schools," said Zhu.
Lin from Guangzhou's legislative affairs office said that the government will estimate the cost of purchasing and upgrading the buses and work out plans to provide subsidies.
The police have also vowed to strengthen supervision of school buses.
But "we don't have a particular punishment for drivers who break the law and pass a school bus that has stopped to load and unload students", said Li Yulin, deputy director of the section of legislative affairs at the Guangzhou public security bureau.
"We have set a precedent by forbidding passing when a school bus has stopped, and we need to wait for the release of relevant laws at the provincial or state level before we can assess specific punishments," Li admitted.
Lin emphasized that the trial regulations will be evaluated for at least two years, allowing the government to continually improve them.
Liang Qianyun in Guangzhou contributed to this story.