Ei-iE

China: Fatal knife attack in nursery school

published 4 August 2010 updated 4 August 2010

A man went on a deadly rampage as he killed at least three children and one teacher in an unprovoked knife attack at a Chinese nursery school in the city of Zibo, in the eastern province of Shandong.

In total, more than 20 children and four teachers were hurt as parents collected their children at the end of the school day.

According to Chinese state media, the alleged assailant, Fang Jiantang, 26, was taken into custody shortly after the attack and has confessed to his crime.

The British Broadcasting Corporation's correspondent in Beijing, Chris Hogg, has reported that officials have tried to minimise media coverage of such incidents inside China on order to avoid copycat attacks.

EI has been troubled by the growing number of such attacks in China over recent months. More than 27 people have died and at least 80 have been injured in knife attacks at several schools since the beginning of the year. Security has been increased at many schools but not all of them can afford it.

The latest attack has prompted calls for more attention to diagnosing serious mental health illness and has ignited fears over the toll that stress is taking on the nation's emotional health.

EI conveys its condolences to those families who have lost their children, and hopes that the teachers who have been affected by this tragic event will be able to go back to their classrooms as soon as possible with additional safeguards.

For some time, EI has been developing a policy to address the health and safety of teachers and education workers. It argues two themes very clearly. Firstly, there is a need to protect teachers’ basic human and labour rights as well as children’s right to learn. Secondly, in order to provide quality education for all, schools need teachers who are fit and fully able to do their job in safe conditions.

A research project, entitled ‘Teachers and Education in China’, has been commissioned by EI to focus on trade union rights. It is being led by the Canadian University of Calgary’s Dr. Guo.