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China Daily Website

Hasty mergers of rural schools banned

Updated: 2012-07-23 16:44
( Xinhua)

BEIJING - The Ministry of Education has issued a circular banning the "blind" closures and mergers of rural public schools over concerns regarding road safety and students' commute times.

County-level governments must work out feasible plans for the locations of their elementary and primary schools in accordance with local conditions, according to a circular issued by the ministry on Sunday.

The closures and mergers of rural schools will be suspended until the plan is approved by the provincial government, said the circular.

Chinese authorities have been making efforts to optimize educational resources in rural areas since 2002, urging schools to reassemble or merge in order to distribute education more fairly.

Higher enrollment in urban schools and a decreasing birth rate in rural areas have contributed to the efforts, the circular said.

However, overcrowding and long commute times remain a problem for rural students. Many also worry about traffic safety and boarding conditions at the schools, particularly after a string of school bus accidents and food poisoning incidents that have occurred since late last year.

The circular states that students' commutes should be limited within 40 minutes.

The circular also urged local governments to strictly implement the Regulation on School Bus Safety Management created in April by the State Council, or China's Cabinet, to ensure safe transportation.

The circular also called for increased standards for school facilities and services, including dormitories, drinking water facilities and security.

The ministry will accept opinions and comments from the public regarding the circular until August 6.