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1.I pledge to organize emergency drills for fire and earthquake. | 2.As a mother of a school child I pledge to advocate to my daughter's school the importance of safe school. I will contribute time and knowledge to educate the students and teachers about this campaign, and advocate to the school administrators. | 3.As an advocate I pledge to raise the level of awareness of DepEd teaching and non-teaching employees on disaster risk reduction in schools through the development and distribution of IEC materials on DRR. | 4.To introduce "school-watching" activities in schools to conduct disaster risk assessement to assess their safety. | 5.To conduct seminar on school safety, create awareness and ask techers and student to pledge for safe school.
 

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Efforts by CWS-Pakistan/Afghanistan on Safe Schools in Pakistan
Created by admin in 2/10/2012 1:52:42 AM

On 8 October 2005, an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck northern Pakistan, resulting in the deaths of around 80,000 people, injuring more than 300,000, and leaving 3.5 million homeless. Following the initial quake, the focal depth of which was an estimated 26 km, a further 2,033 aftershocks, some measuring as high as 6 on the Richter scale, compounded the devastation. Homes, land, livelihoods and schools were destroyed across Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunwa provinces. Given the time of the earthquake, 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning, classrooms were full with students and teachers attending to their lessons. As a result, did not lose just school buildings, but also the lives of thousands of children and teachers alike. An estimated 19,000 children were killed, most of them due to the collapse of 5,578 school buildings. Around 900 teachers were also killed.

The impact this disaster had on education cannot be overestimated. Together with the severe psychological trauma faced by survivors, the communities were confronted with a considerable loss to their educational infrastructure and resources. The scale of the disaster and the consequential loss of class time have been detrimental to students in the affected areas.

In situations of such terrible devastation, the importance of education becomes even more pronounced. The re-establishment of schools provide not only the practicalities of classrooms for regular lessons, forums for sharing with community members lessons on present and future risk reduction, but also safe spaces to assist with the fundamental psychological support to those suffering from severe trauma.

School classes occupy children and relieve parents, giving them some time away from their responsibility for their children in impossibly harsh environments; they can also provide a comforting sense of structure and return to normalcy, which is crucial for helping a community to cope with such life-changing events. Yet in such a situation, when education becomes increasingly vital to the life of the community, fears can arise as to the consequences of a return to school. Parents, students and teachers are afraid of the possibility of another earthquake and the dangers they could face in a school building. Coupling these considerations, CWS-P/A was faced with a multifunctional task; one that would recognize that it is not enough to simply rebuild schools, the project endeavored to ‘build back better’ and provide communities with higher quality school buildings than previously existed.

The hard terrain of the KPK region caused many difficulties and challenges in the implementation of the project. The hilly roads hampered access to the building sites, often resulting in a reliance on donkeys and jeeps to transport the construction materials, which when coupled with the lack of absence of water and electricity considerably slowed down the process. Seasonal weather created additional obstacles as subsequent landslides postponed construction for six months and the risk of further land erosion forced the relocation of one school thus adding a further two months to the timeline as the team sought to acquire an appropriate plot of land.

In spite of these challenges, the project was able to meet its initial targets; the construction of ten schools, each containing two classrooms along with hygiene and safety facilities was completed benefiting 800 students in seven different union councils. The schools were designed to facilitate education from two perspectives: safety and effective learning. They were constructed with the natural environment in mind and followed the recommendations of surveyors to limit the impact of future natural disasters on the buildings. Features such as reinforced concrete cement frames and run-off water drains strengthen the school structures and enhance their safety.

The learning environment was also a major consideration for DMP; resulting in clean, bright, spacious child-centred facilities that encourage children to attend school. Not only are they able to learn in a safe environment, but in a pleasant one, with new playground facilities in addition to improved classrooms. Confidence in safety is compounded with interest and enjoyment in learning, enhancing the appeal of education to parents, teachers and, most importantly, the children. In order to fully assure communities of their safety, Disaster Risk Reduction trainings have educated residents on courses of action to take in the event of another emergency and enabling participation in the protection of their community.

Re-establishing education is crucial to healing a community in the aftermath of such a destructive event. Nonetheless, it is not simply the school structures that must be rebuilt; teachers must be trained, quality curricula must be implemented and equality in education must be supported in order for education system to have a meaningful, lasting and sustainable impact. A school is more than a building; it is a fundamental part of any community and requires full participation from everyone involved. This project has been able to provide the first step in repairing these communities..


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