Safe Schools by 2020

Safe Schools by 2020Safe Schools by 2020

Adequate funds will be made available for the reconstruction and standardization of schools during the next economic development plan (2016-2021).

Head of the Management and Planning Organization Mohammad Baqer Nobakht made the commitment in a meeting with Education Minister Ali Asghar Fani and president of the organization for Development, Renovation and Equipping Schools (DRES), Morteza Raeesi.

“If the budget is allocated, we will hopefully reach all the standards of safe schools by 2020,” Fani was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.

At a meeting of provincial directors of DRES, Fani pointed to the Fundamental Education Reform Document (FERD) which would hopefully address many issues.

“It took ten years to prepare and approve the FERD. Its action plan was finalized in 2014 which will be the basis for reforms in the next plan beginning in March 2016.”

Referring to a proper academic environment as one of the subsystems of the document, Fani said it is a key factor in motivating students and facilitating teaching and learning.

The minister called for increasing the shelf-life of school buildings adding that one-third of educational buildings are below standard.

“Nearly 10% of the education budget must be earmarked for restoration and maintenance of school buildings as they are a long-term investment.”

Under the current Five-Year Economic, Social and Cultural Development Plan (2011-2016), in addition to the government’s allocation of $622,000 (23 billion rials), around $214,000 (8 billion rials) was pledged by donors for the school renovation project.

Incomplete projects should be completed prior to starting new ones because leaving buildings half-done for extended periods result in their early dilapidation, Fani said.

He also pointed to the standardization of heating systems in schools and said it “does not require separate budgeting since specific funds permanently exist for the purpose.”

 Central Heating

On the eve of the new school year (started Sept. 23), Fani had said almost 8,000 classrooms were renovated to accommodate 250,000 students. Further, 260 projects at a cost of $295 million had been taken up to build new schools. He pointed out that 40,000 classrooms were equipped with safe central heating by replacing the risky oil heating appliances. “Safe heating in classrooms is our main concern and measures have been taken to prevent school fires.”

Nearly 12.4 million students have registered in the new school year.

“School heating systems must be inspected regularly and must be ready before the start of the academic year,” the minister stressed.

Recalling the fire accidents in Shin-Abad and Dorudzan schools, he said it was heart wrenching and could have been prevented if timely action had been taken.

In 2006, a heater caught fire in an elementary school in Dorudzan village in Fars Province and eight children including six girls and two boys suffered severe burns.    

On December 5, 2012, a fire broke out in a girls’ school in Shin-Abad village in West Azarbaijan as a result of which two students lost their lives and 26 others were injured.

Addressing air pollution which seriously affects schoolchildren, Fani proposed that smart devices be installed to automatically turn off the heating system when schools are closed.  

He called for replacement of dangerous fossil fuels with green energy as they are safer and less polluting.