The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round... even in Tibet, the “roof of the world”. The recent purchase of 53 new school buses by local authorities in Lhasa, capital city of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, means many students in far-flung farming regions will ride to and from school in style (and safety) for the very first time.
The Chinese-made, bright yellow school buses are a marked improvement over previous means of student transportation in Tibet which included private vehicles, taxis, pedicabs, on foot or (presumably) on yak-back.
In a nutshell, the onus on getting to school was squarely on the students and Tibet's rough & rugged transportation infrastructure is as unforgiving as it gets, even in Lhasa's relatively built-up environs.
The 53 school buses cost a total of 13 million yuan (around $2 million), hardly chump change in one of China's poorest regions. The outlay is a worthy investment, however, as traditional livelihoods in Tibet provide incomes barely above subsistence level.
Besides trumpeting yet another investment in Tibet, China's central government has another reason for publicizing the purchase of these school buses. A series of horrific traffic accidents involving unsafe, overloaded school buses (above, right) have shocked the populace nationwide.
On top of the accident reports have come revelations that 5 brand new “American-style” school buses (above, left) in the southwestern city of Guiyang have been reserved for the use of teachers only, and that 23 new state-of-the-art school buses (above, right) have been donated to Macedonia, where average annual incomes and per capita GDP are higher than comparable figures in China.
Is investing in education the best remedy for poor public relations? Regardless of the motivations involved, if students reap the rewards than this is one case where the destination is more interesting than the journey undertaken to get them there. (via China Tibet Online)