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6 Ways to Get Schools Ready for Tomorrow

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

Did you ever set out your clothes and homework the night before school? If so, you know that getting ready pays off in confidence and precious moments of calm. We aim for the same thing when we help to safeguard schools for natural hazards.

Here are 6 ways we’re making a difference in Haiti, India, Bhutan and Nepal.

All set to go. Photo:Julie Jomo

1. Children who practice disaster drills respond more reliably in a crisis. With only seconds to act, the body remembers. We teach students about possible earthquakes or tsunamis, rehearse how to react, and train to evacuate.

2. In poor countries, going to class means getting ahead. But many children don’t resume studies if their school is destroyed, and girls in particular may fall prey to traffickers. We help local engineers retrofit schools so that children not only survive disasters but can also return to a safe haven.

3. Fallen water tanks, cabinets, or building appendages can fatally injure students during an earthquake. We show teachers and headmasters what they can do right away to reduce risk, like clearing exit paths and bracing heavy items.

Back at school in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Photo: U.S. Department of Defense

4. Until low- and middle-income nations are able to fix their earthquake-vulnerable school buildings, children need better protection than current school desks provide. With designers Arthur Brutter and Ido Bruno, we trained local manufacturers to produce low-cost Earthquake Desks, an interim safety option.

5. Safer practices introduced through schools are trusted, take root, and grow in the community. Under watchful eyes, we train local builders in seismic construction while upgrading the local school. An informal follow-up in rural Nepal near four such schools showed that a high percentage of new homes had these new features.

6. New policies based on proven science, engineering and global experience will protect schoolchildren in the long term. We work with governments at the village, regional and the national level to plan for safer schools.

Going to school near Thimphu, Bhutan. Photo: Ken Kornberg

Success appears deceptively ordinary: Kids heading off in the morning with friends, ready for a new day in a school that’s ready too.

Thanks to your support, you’re part of this picture. And we have more work to do.

P.S. We are proud to be recognized as a 2017 Social Design Circle Member by the Curry Stone Design Prize. Find out more at


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