This post started out as a movie review and a recommendation of Going to School with Dad on My Back (1998), but recent criticism on the Internet and in the media of China’s central government giving twenty-three 35-seat school busses to “tiny Macedonia”—in addition to a school bus accident in China—added a twist to this series of three posts.
In the UK, the Guardian left out crucial information from an Associated Press news release of the accident and focused on the 500,000 comments posted on China’s popular Twitter-like micro-blog Monday criticizing the donation “given the poor quality school buses many Chinese children ride in”.
Yahoo News also used the AP news release and mentioned the 500,000 complaints and then pointed out the deaths of 19 Chinese preschoolers in an unrelated school bus crash two weeks earlier in addition to another bus crash in rural China where a bus rolled over injuring students.
It’s what these two Western media sources do not say that may mislead people’s opinions astray.
Since I have learned that much of what we hear of China in the west often doesn’t tell half the story, I turned to the People’s Daily to discover “Parents of students at the [private] kindergarten said school bus overloading has been a problem for years, despite repeated complaints.”
The school bus that crashed belonged to a private school that had removed most of the seats and safety gear to make room for more kids—I imagine the resulting school bus was sort of like the cattle trucks I was transported in when I served in the United States Marines in the late 1960s, where there was standing room only and no safety gear.
The People’s Daily also reported the owner of the private school had been arrested and would be tried in court for what he/she had done to cut corners and boost profits.
In addition, last year we learn from the “China Daily” that it is not the lack of a standard for school busses in China, but “the rampant use of illegal vehicles” like the van involved in the crash.
In fact, accidents happen to school busses in America too and the laws and safety equipment found in US school busses are because of those early accidents.
For example, the private school bus crash in China that killed preschool children occurred nearly five years to the day of the Nov. 20, 2006 school bus crash in Huntsville, Alabama that killed five high school students after the vehicle plunged off a freeway overpass.
This brings me back to the movie, Going to School with Dad on My Back (1998).
Continued on December 20, 2011 in Going to School with Dad on My Back – Part 2
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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