Earthquake 2005 had severe impact on education system as over 17,000 students and 900 teachers were killed. Large numbers of schools were destroyed. In the middle of 2007 Pakistan experienced intense storms and a major cyclone causing severe flooding, displacing over 300,000 people and affecting more than 2.5 million. Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is beset with plethora of natural and human induced hazards. Flooding, earthquakes, forest fires, conflicts, and IDP are identified as some of the key hazards for FATA in the National Disaster Risk Management Framework. Most of the school buildings and educational institutions do not comply with the hazard (such as earthquake, flooding, landslides and associated disasters) resistance designs, construction and have no preparedness and response plans. The recent floods of 2010 have destroyed approximately 180 schools, causing damages worth PKR 275.0 M in FATA, including educational building in disaster vulnerable territories of FATA.
There, generally, is an agreement among experts that many schools collapse due to lack of knowledge and lack of policy formulation and guidelines for school site selection, design, construction, and use of construction material, etc. Equally contributing to such factors is lack of preparedness in schools in terms of evacuation plans, designated evacuation areas, and safety awareness.
Ministry of Education, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and UNESCO jointly assisted the FATA Government in development of Plan of Action for safe schools and educational buildings in FATA through a wider stakeholder consultative process. The stakeholder were briefed on issues covering concepts of safety of schools and educational institutions, as well as were presented with relevant information and data on specific disasters related to FATA and that how these disasters could possibly impact children and school safety.
Extracting broad parameters of school safety and disaster risk reduction from the Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA), school safety requires a system based approach of analyzing and responding to school safety issue on a life-cycle application. Therefore, six key inter-linked elements of school safety that encompass safe schools were utilized in developing a comprehensive school safety plan for FATA. The six key school safety elements areas are;
- Policy and Institutional Mechanisms for Promoting School Safety
- Technical Aspects of Seismically Safer Schools
- Systems/Skills/Resources-Capacity Development Requirements for Safer Construction
- Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction Information in Formal/Informal Education
- Community Preparedness for Disaster Prevention and Response
- Public-Private Partnerships for Safe Schools.
The comprehensive school safety plan of action for the province thus developed through stakeholder consultation and commitment is contained in this document. The plan contains two sets of distinguishing actions- priority actions and strategic actions. Priority Actions are that could be initiated and completed in a relatively short time frame, say within one to one-and-a-half year. Strategic Actions is a composite listing of those actions that will lead towards meeting the national and international obligation for safe schools and safe children, in a relatively longer time frame of three to four years.