45179_towardssaferschoolconstruction_0 (2015) - Page 10

SECTION I: INTRODUCTION SECTION I: INTRODUCTION A call for safer schools All children deserve safe, accessible and culturally appropriate school buildings – regardless of class, creed, gender or ability. Students in dark, cramped and uninspiring classrooms should instead have positive learning spaces that invite creativity and engagement. Communities also want a focal point where they can congregate with pride to support their future development. With clear foresight, the United Nations set a Millennium Development Goal for 2015 to bring children and youth what they deserve – universal primary education. A global need for schools 1.26 billion children and youth enrolled in primary and secondary education in 2012. 58 million children and youth not attending primary school. 63 million recovery. When students cannot attend school, they are more vulnerable to abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation.2 With so much at stake, school buildings should be durable and functional, even after a disaster. Though school safety has become a global concern, recent disasters highlight the continued vulnerability of school buildings. The 2010 Super Typhoon Megi, the 2012 Bangkok floods, the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, and other cyclones have damaged or destroyed thousands of school buildings. Earthquakes have been even more devastating. The 2005 Kashmir earthquake killed 17,000 students and destroyed 80 percent of schools in some areas. The 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China killed tens of thousands of students in the very buildings meant to protect them. Two years later, 200,000 people perished in Haiti and 80 percent of the schools in the capital city of Port-au-Prince were damaged or destroyed.3 In each case, the emotional loss to the surviving community remains incalculable. Whether a government education agency is managing thousands of classrooms across a jurisdiction, a humanitarian organisation is rebuilding school buildings after a disaster, or a small non-profit is constructing a single school in a disadvantaged community, a child’s right to safety and survival is paramount. school-aged youth not attending lower secondary school. Sources: UNSECO Institute for Statistics for year 2012; Theunynck 2009. Yet access to just any classroom is not enough in hazardprone places. Although decades of building classrooms has brought education to millions of students globally, many sit in classrooms at risk of collapsing or being rendered unusable when the ground shakes, floodwaters rise, or when high winds sweep across the land. Poor design and construction – stemming from limited resources, corruption and unfamiliar building technologies – has made school buildings unsafe and has led to a staggering loss of life.1 What’s at stake? Disasters striking these unsafe schools can shatter fragile development gains, undermining the hope placed in education. In disasters, students, school staff and families experience intense mental and physical trauma. Unsafe schools can injure and even kill occupants. Months, even years, of education can be lost as communities shift resources away from education during their arduous 1 A community-built school in Laos, designed and constructed without sufficient technical support, collapsed in high winds. Several students were trapped but successfully rescued. Photo: Save the Children.