45179_towardssaferschoolconstruction_0 2015 - Page 41

Without the capacity to address the diverse damages as a central agency, in 2011 the Ministry of Finance changed the existing Special Allocation Fund (DAK) – previously used for purchasing computers or textbooks – to help maintain education buildings. They drastically increased the portion of the budget allotted to physical expenditures and allocated funds according to damage level and student enrolment. School management committees could use these funds to build new schools or repair existing ones as they saw fit. Challenges to this approach Construction was a new responsibility for the school management committees. They had to hire their own contractors and sub-contractors to help them build new schools or retrofit existing ones. While committees did receive some assistance from a MoEC engineer to oversee a project, they did not always have the capacity to implement construction projects nor the appropriate knowledge to prioritise school safety. As a result, DAK funds have been spent returning buildings to their original condition, rather than improving structural components to make them safer. According to an Indonesian report prepared for the World Bank, decentralisation of school construction increased ownership and decreased costs. In situations where school communities were already oriented to disaster risk reduction principles and where school principals took the lead in construction, school quality increased. However, the government is still working through some challenges related to safer school construction. • Technical oversight. The government has not created an appropriate technical advisory system and school communities often lack the funds to perform rehabilitation and hire a technical consultant. Even if consultants are hired, they often lack the appropriate information to build hazard-resistant design according to local building code bylaws. • Public sector coordination. In Indonesia, the MoPW is responsible for writing and enforcing the building codes, including the design review and construction inspection of schools. Unfortunately, local public works offices are given the same amount of funds regardless of the number of schools in a district. With so many diverse infrastructure tasks to supervise they rarely perform thorough checks – especially if the school is single story. In addition, public works officials rotate between departments to reduce corruption, but with the fast turnover rate officials rarely develop sufficient experience for thoroughly overseeing school projects. Under the current DAK fund, the responsibility to finance the supervision of school projects rests on local governments. Because local governments finance the supervision, each unique local political economy can influence the construction costs, potentially compromising quality assurance and safety. Noticing these funding and capacity issues, the MoEC provided a special portion of money for quality supervision for each school. Currently, this fund is only applicable for school construction directly financed by the MoEC and not for construction using the DAK fund. • Construction speed. To compound these challenges, the speed at which school management committees must spend DAK funds has pressured school communities to implement projects faster than they are capable. Special allocation funds must be completed in three months to receive another allocation of money across all sectors. Other departments relying on DAK funds for education materials may pressure schools to finish their work within the three-month funding window so the funds for their sectors will not be delayed. SECTION II: OVERVIEW Even though the government knew about some of the problems with school buildings, they did not know specifics. To address this, the MoEC contracted a private company to determine the extent of damage and disrepair of Indonesian school buildings. Considering geographic and logistical challenges, the government allowed school committees to perform basic damage assessments that were then vetted at the district level. After years of surveys, the government learned that one-third of the total schools – more than 89,000 – fell into the heavily damaged and medium damaged category. Community-based school construction policy at the national level is possible, but creating incentives that produce safer schools is a complex and lengthy process. In Indonesia, the decentralised approach may be the only opportunity to reach all communities. At the same time, decentralised construction and repair may be, in some cases, of substandard quality. And in Indonesia, where natural hazards are frequent, new vulnerabilities are especially dangerous. Key takeaways • Decentralised methods in regions with diverse contexts allow localities the freedom to address their unique needs. • Even though school management committees can address their own needs well, they may not be immediately capable of managing a construction project. • Oversight must remain a top priority even if schools management committees are given greater autonomy in construction. Democratically elected school management committees may use funds to construct new schools or retrofit unsafe ones. The country is working to developing effective systems for providing technical support to local school management committees. Photo: GFDRR. 32