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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Recognising the Obstacles to Improving Seismic Safety of Schools

Programme on Educational Building

The collapse of school buildings in earthquakes can be attributed to basic defi ciencies in both the nature and implementation of laws and regulations concerning the planning, construction and maintenance of school buildings. Countries often lack building codes or poorly enforce existing codes. The following papers tell the stories of why schools have collapsed in earthquakes in nine countries: Algeria, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Turkey, the United States and Venezuela. While these papers assess the relative importance of the specifi c factors contributing to the poor performance of school buildings, they also reveal the extent to which the lessons learned from past earthquakes have been used to change and improve building codes and construction practices. In addition, these stories highlight the crucial role of the many groups and individuals who ...


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