International Workshop on Keeping Schools Safe from Earthquakes
1 Jun 2006 - 2 Jun 2006
Kathmandu, Nepal

UNCRD organized an international workshop on "Keeping Schools Safe from Earthquakes"on 1-2, June in Kathmandu jointly with National Society for Earthquake Technology- Nepal (NSET) in association with Ministry of Education and Sports, Government of Nepal among others. There were over 60 participants from the national government, UN offices in Nepal, universities and civil society organizations and 15 international participants from Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan and Uzbekistan.

The workshop started with a welcome address by Mr. Kazunobu Onogawa, Director, UNCRD and messages from Honorable Minister Prof Mangal Siddhi Manadhar, Ministry of Education and Sports, Government of Nepal and Mr. Salvano Briceno, Director, UN ISDR followed by folk song by school children on disaster prevention theme.

The two day workshop proceeded with sessions on
- Theme Presentation: Keeping schools safe from earthquakes
- Country case studies: Assessing the ongoing initiatives
- Parallel group discussions: Towards action
i. School safety and public policy
ii. Seismic assessment and retrofitting of school buildings
iii. Disaster education, awareness and trainings
- Field visit to earthquake retrofitted community schools in Kathmandu
- Plenary session Commitment for future

Experts discussed the issues of school earthquake safety from technological, socio- political and economical perspectives in theme presentation sessions. Arguments were made to make schools safe from earthquakes on the ground that it is the government's responsibility to safeguard the lives of children who come to schools for education as per government's policy.

In the country papers, presentations were made on assessments of ongoing initiatives on school safety in Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal and Uzbekistan. In this session, assessments were made also on the UNDESA/UNCR's current project on "Reducing Vulnerability of School Children to Earthquakes" in Asia Pacific. It was reported that efforts are made to institutionalize school retrofitting as a national program in countries like Fiji and Uzbekistan. The experience of community based school retrofitting model in Nepal was inspiring to most of the international participants.

The group discussions were focused on the respective themes where participants shared their experiences and came to common understandings on how to promote school safety from the aspects of fund management, technical know how and its access to developing countries and opportunity to utilize school safety initiative for building earthquake resilient communities through education, awareness and trainings.

On the second day, the workshop participants visited 2 schools in outer fringe of Kathmandu recently retrofitted by communities with help from NSET. The visit provided an opportunity for participants to interact with community people, students, teachers, parents, community people and local governments involved in the retrofitting process. The replication of the earthquake technology adopted in schools for private residential houses surrounding the schools was also observed during the visit.

After the visit from schools, participants convened for plenary session which passed a resolution calling for effective implementation of measures to keep schools safe from earthquakes.

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