Every primary and secondary school in China should have at least one part-time vice-principal from law enforcement authorities who can take charge of law-related affairs and better protect children, a new guideline said on Feb 17.
The guideline, issued by the Ministry of Education and approved by the Supreme People's Court, Supreme People's Procuratorate, and the ministries of public security and justice, will take effect on May 1.
Courts, procuratorates, and public security and justice authorities should recommend and entrust officials to serve as school vice-principals.
Their main responsibilities will include conducting legal education, helping schools formulate policies to protect students' rights and interests, safety management, preventing juvenile delinquency, and handing out punishment for students who seriously misbehave.
The officials should have at least three years of legal experience and undergo special training before assuming the posts.
Deng Chuanhuai, director of the Ministry of Education's department of policies and regulations, said the practice of hiring law enforcement officials as vice-principals started in 2003 and the officials have played an important role in strengthening the protection of the legal rights of students and teachers, promoting legal education at schools and making school campuses safer. There were 235,000 primary and secondary schools in China last year.
The new guideline aims to solve some inadequacies of the policy, such as some legal vice-principals failing to perform their duties, he said.
The ministry will prioritize the appointment of legal vice-principals in schools in remote or rural areas and at disadvantaged schools in cities, he said.
Wang Daquan, the department's deputy director, said the vice-principals will also play an important role in the prevention and control of bullying by teaching about related laws and regulations, immediately dealing with incidents and educating and rectifying students who bully.
Jiang Jihai, an official with the Supreme People's Court, said more than 13,800 judges at more than 2,300 courts have served as vice-principals in more than 15,000 primary and secondary schools.
Based on students' ages, they have developed courses to prevent school bullying, sexual assault, fraud and drug use, he said.
Li Feng, an official with the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said almost 40,000 prosecutors had served as vice-principals at 77,000 primary and secondary schools by the end of September.
He said Zhang Jun, procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, has taught legal courses at Beijing No 2 Middle School for four consecutive years, which have been watched by students and teachers in Beijing's 16 districts.
Liao Qi, an official with the Ministry of Public Security, said the more than 300,000 police officers working as vice-principals have conducted activities to teach students how to prevent bullying, violence, human trafficking, sexual assault and traffic accidents.