China Admits Flaws in School Construction

A government report acknowledges shoddy construction of schools across the country, like those that collapsed in the May earthquake in Sichuan. In Yunnan Province alone, 20% of primary schools are structurally unsound, according to the report. From the New York Times:

The Ministry of Education report is a rare government admission of substandard school construction. The issue has been a delicate one since the earthquake, which killed 88,000 people, many of them children crushed in shoddily built schools.

The report called on the central government to finance the reconstruction of vulnerable schools quickly, especially those in rural areas and western parts of China that are seismically unstable. Speaking about the report, Lu Yongxiang, vice chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, said in an interview with the China News Service that Beijing would increase construction subsidies by 25 percent to 150 percent, depending on the region.

Mr. Lu was quoted as saying that nearly 2.5 percent of all primary and middle schools in China have structural problems, on a built area equal to 360 million square feet.

The NPC has also recently passed legislation setting stricter standards for school construction.

In related news, a teenager from Sichuan who raised money for earthquake survivors has been invited to attend President-elect Obama’s inauguration in Washington next month. From AP:

Li Zizi, 16, is making the trip because she participated in the Global Young Leaders Conference in New York and Washington this past summer. The program, run by a U.S.-based nonprofit, invites alumni to attend the presidential inauguration every four years.

Li moved in August to Sichuan province, which was rocked by a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in May that left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing. She now attends the Chengdu Experimental Foreign Language School, which is close to many of the hardest-hit areas.

Her family is from Sichuan, but she was born and raised in Japan and living there when the quake hit.

“I was so worried, we were on the phone and on the computer dialing away and we couldn’t get through to anyone because all the phone connections were down,” she said in a phone interview Monday. “I couldn’t wait to get back and start volunteering for stuff and fundraising.”

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