45179_towardssaferschoolconstruction_0 (2015) - Page 6

SECTION I: INTRODUCTION Preface Purpose of this manual All children deserve safe, accessible and culturally appropriate school buildings — regardless of class, creed, gender or ability. When children live in hazard-prone places where high winds, earthquakes, floods and other hazards threaten them, they need schools and grounds that protect them. • Raise awareness about hazards within communities Yet recent disasters around the world attest to the fragility of many schools. Earthquakes in China, Pakistan, Haiti and other countries have collapsed school buildings and crushed students. Flooding, storm surge and tsunamis have swamped schools in Japan, the United States, Thailand and countless other nations. Rising waters have damaged school grounds and destroyed educational material. It has kept students out of school for weeks and months, stunting development. High winds have blown off roofs and collapsed school buildings in Ghana, Laos, Nicaragua and the Philippines – to name a few. Students, staff and community need safer schools. When schools will be used during crisis, safety has an added dimension. Communities need to be able to access and safely shelter in these school facilities. Schools can be built safer and weak schools can be strengthened with concerted effort. When communities identify hazards and take them into account when planning where and how to build, school grounds become safer. When design teams and construction workers incorporate hazard-resistant techniques in construction, the school building becomes safer. These safer schools protect students, staff and other occupants from death and injury and become points of refuge for the wider community. However, achieving safety is not always straightforward. In many places, building codes lag behind best practices or fail to address vernacular construction. Those who design and construct schools may be unfamiliar with hazardresistant techniques or lack the oversight needed to ensure such techniques are put to use. School communities may inadvertently weaken schools through years of informal building modifications or poor maintenance. The result is schools that threaten communities rather than protect them. A community-based approach seeks to achieve the twin goals of safer schools and more resilient communities. It treats school construction as a community learning opportunity to better understand risks, collectively commit to safety, and to learn and apply strategies for safer construction. A community-based approach builds community capacity in tandem with the laying of foundations and erecting of classroom walls. It also prepares communities to be knowledgeable caretakers of schools, able to maintain the physical safety of the structures and the culture of safety among those who use it. V This manual shows how community-based approaches to safer school construction can do more than just provide safer school buildings in hazard-prone places. It can also: • Build local capacity for safe construction practices • Strengthen a culture of safety within and around the school • Increase a sense of community ownership of the school • Ensure community values are incorporated into school designs The scope of this manual The focus of this manual is on the process of communitybased school construction. It should supplement technical guidance on appropriate construction materials and techniques, such as UNESCO’s 2013 Guidelines for Earthquake-Resistant Non-Engineered Construction. This manual considers community-based school construction in depth, supplementing the broader Guidance Notes on Safer School Construction published in 2009 by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) of the World Bank and the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE). Feedback on this manual Every effort has been made to ensure that this manual is rooted in practical first-hand experience of building schools with the active participation of communities. Nevertheless, recognising the broad range of contexts in which schools are built and the ever evolving approaches of those involved in school construction, the authors and editors are keen to hear feedback from practitioners, communities and ministries of education who use this manual during community-based school construction projects. Feedback should be sent to drrandcca@savethechildren.org.au and will be used to update this package of material when appropriate. Feedback used will be accredited to the individuals or organisations in subsequent publication should they wish to be acknowledged.