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Comprehensive School Safety

The Comprehensive School Safety (CSS) Framework is central to a community-based approach to safer school construction. United Nations agencies and the members of international development organisations have come together in the Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector (GADRRRES), and have adopted the CSS Framework as their shared approach.

Comprehensive School Safety aligns education policy and practices with disaster management at national, regional, district, and local school site levels.

Diagram: The Comprehensive School Safety Framework

The CSS Framework

The Comprehensive School Safety Framework, aims to bring together efforts of disaster risk reduction, sustainable development, and development goals for universal access to education. Through a clear focus, the CSS Framework helps education sector partners to work more effectively and link to similar efforts in other sectors.

The goals of the framework are to:

  • Protect learners and education workers from death, injury and harm in schools
  • Plan for educational continuity in the face of all expected hazards and threats
  • Safeguard education sector investments; and
  • Strengthen risk reduction and resilience education.

Community-based construction and the three pillars of Comprehensive School Safety

The CSS Framework has identified three very distinct but overlapping areas that are important to school safety:

Pillar 1: Safe School Facilities
Pillar 2: School Disaster Management 
Pillar 3: Risk Reduction and Resilience Education

Each of these has a different group of stakeholders and responsibilities. Although community-based construction sits squarely within Pillar 1, there are also important ways in which it shows up, importantly in the scope of each pillar.

Pillar 1: Safe learning facilities

  • Communities work with technical experts to select a safe site, design and construct a school to withstand hazards.
  • Communities participate in design and construction, including ensuring that if the school is a designated community emergency shelter, it is designed and equipped to fulfil this function
  • Community members learn and apply the skills of safer construction


Pillar 2: School disaster management (safe use and maintenance of the school)

  • Communities participate in identifying the non-structural mitigation measures needed to allow safe exit in case of fire or earthquake, and to protect equipment and materials from water and wind.
  • Following construction, school staff and students undertake additional ‘non-structural mitigation’ measures securing objects that may be hazardous in a disaster, and participate in drills to practice how to use the safer school building during a disaster.


Pillar 3: Risk reduction and resilience education (building a culture of safety)

  • Though the construction of a safer school, communities learn how hazards can damage their school and community.
  • By participating in safer school construction, communities discover how safe site selection, disaster-resistant design, and attention to detail in construction techniques reduce damage and save lives.
  • Through the visual record of safer school construction, future students and families can continue to learn from the safer construction experience.
  • Safer school projects strengthen community resilience by building a culture of safety.
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