Keeping Schools Safe in Earthquakes

image of Keeping Schools Safe in Earthquakes

Earthquake-prone communities need earthquake-resistant schools. In 2002, a primary school in San Giuliano, Italy, collapsed killing 29 children and one teacher. In May 2003, a medium-sized earthquake in the city of Bingöl, Turkey, caused the collapse of three new schools and a dormitory, killing many children as they slept. All too frequently, earthquakes cause the collapse of school buildings and the injury and death of staff and students. Further, when schools are closed because of earthquake damage, education is hampered, community life disrupted, and potential emergency shelters unavailable. Where school attendance is compulsory, communities have an obligation to provide a safe study and work environment.

Why do schools collapse even during moderate earthquakes? Experts agree that many collapse due to avoidable errors in design and construction. Often, the needed technology is not applied and laws and regulations are not sufficiently enforced. Application of existing knowledge can significantly lower the seismic risk of schools and help prevent further injury and death of school occupants during earthquakes. Moreover, this can be accomplished at reasonable cost and within a reasonable period.

Keeping Schools Safe in Earthquakes presents expert knowledge, opinions and experiences, and provides valuable insight into the scope of problems involved in protecting schools and their occupants. Its recommendations are a call to action to all governments in OECD and partner countries to help facilitate their implementation.

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Acknowledging the Importance of Improving Earthquake Safety in Schools

Programme on Educational Building

Few individuals will contest the importance of protecting society’s most valuable and vulnerable members, children; and few will contest the importance of providing compulsory education for all children. Even fewer people will argue with the fact that earthquakes kill people and damage property. But these three essential principles are not valid in modern society. In many earthquake-prone countries, a surprisingly high number of school buildings are not constructed to withstand even moderate-sized earthquakes. The fundamental question that we must ask ourselves is “Why is it so simple to acknowledge the importance of the education and safety of our children, yet so diffi cult to ensure ...


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