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Safer school construction: an overview

Many children are educated in unsafe classrooms. Floods, earthquakes, high winds and other hazards can cause these schools to collapse or become unusable. Children can lose months, even years of education. Communities lose development gains and the hope that education brings. Read more about the need for safer schools.

All schools should be durable and functional, even after a disaster. The safer schools construction approach treats construction as a community learning opportunity. It works to build the community’s resilience, skills and abilities, and results in safer school buildings. When laying foundations and raising walls, communities become knowledgeable caretakers of their schools. They become champions of a culture of safety – in their school, community, and beyond.

The approach includes five stages:

Watch the overview

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Who is involved?

A community approach can bring together a wide number of people. It allows them to share important ideas and skills for safer school construction.

  • School community. The school staff, parents, students, school boards and neighbourhood are at the centre of a community-based approach. They may also be directly involved in construction, project management, elements of hazard assessment, or funding. After completion, the school community often manages and maintains the building. A school management committee made up of staff, parents, students and others can guide the safer school project.
  • Development organisations. Development and humanitarian organisations, United Nations agencies, and local NGOs can provide funds and assistance for school construction. They may also be important advocates for safer and sustainable, buildings.
  • Program manager. A program manager, hired by a project implementer, ensures safer school construction projects meet program objectives within cost and time constraints.
  • Local government. They may allocate local funds for school construction and monitoring and report back to the central government. Local governments may also supply land for schools and ensure that the project meets specific technical requirements.
  • Central government. Ministries of education, public works and finance manage education sector resources and develop guidelines for school construction. They oversee public sector school construction programs and may also monitor private sector programs.
  • Technical professionals. Engineers, architects, construction specialists, and scientists provide consulting services to specific projects and help shape building codes, guidelines, and good practice.
  • Policy and decision makers. Elected officials and decision makers formulate the education programs and policies that shape school construction. Each policy and decision maker may have incentives or disincentives to support safer schools.

The role of stakeholders in the five stages of constructing safer schools

 

School management committees play a central role in the five stages of constructing safer schools. These committees gather community preferences, local knowledge, labour, and materials. The project implementer provides experts, training, funds, and project scope. The project implementer also provides a program manager to assist the process. Central and local government agencies provide the policy context and approval process, and may also provide technical experts and funding.

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