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Safer school construction: the need

Students need access to education. However access to any classroom is not enough. Schools must withstand potential hazards and be safe for all.

In disasters, students, staff, and families experience intense mental and physical trauma. Unsafe schools can injure and even kill people. Years of learning can be lost as communities focus on recovery, not education. And without school to attend each day, students can be vulnerable to abuse, neglect, violence, and exploitation.

Disasters have struck schools around the globe, and recent disasters highlight how vulnerable schools are. In each case, the emotional loss felt by the surviving community is impossible to measure.

Significant Disaster Impacts on Schools in the 21st CenturyThe diagram is of a world map. The impacts on schools (listed below) are marked on the map. Damage by water inundation | Damage from seismic activity | Damage by high winds.

1. In 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck the United States, 700 school buildings closed, mostly due to flooding. In the first year after the disaster, US$2.8 billion was spent to educate displaced students, but some students stopped attending.

2. The 2010 Haiti earthquake destroyed or damaged 80 per cent of schools in the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

3. In 2010 in Chile, a large earthquake and tsunami destroyed or damaged more than 3,000 schools, affecting 1.25 million students.

4.  In Algeria, standard school design templates do not follow the country’s own seismic code recommendations.

5.  In Mozambique, floods in 2015 inundated 335 school buildings.

6. More than 17,000 students were killed and 10,000 school buildings were destroyed in Pakistan’s 2005 Kashmir earthquake.

7. The 2015 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal heavily damaged over 10,000 classrooms. Some districts reported 90 per cent of schools were damaged.


8. The 2007 Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh affected more than 145,000 children. The cost of reconstruction was estimated at US$81 million.

9. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami left 150,000 students without school buildings.

10. In 2008, Cyclone Nargis destroyed 2,460 school buildings in Myanmar.

11. The 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China crushed 10,000 students to death in their classrooms.

12. A total of 700,000 students and teachers were affected by the 2012 Bangkok floods in Thailand.

13. In the Philippines in 2013, Typhoon Haiyan partially or completely damaged 2,500 school buildings and 800 daycare centres.

14. Nearly 200 school buildings were destroyed and more than 700 were significantly damaged in the 2011 East Japan tsunami.

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