What is school infrastructure?
School infrastructure is formally defined as the network of school facilities, campus grounds, buildings, furniture and equipment which enable teachers and administrators to offer educational services in accordance with a given regulatory framework .
Different spaces within a school facility
 There may also be informal infrastructure that does not follow required norms recognized within a country as delivering private and public educational services.
What is disaster risk in the education sector?
Disaster risk refers to the likelihood of severe alterations over a specified period in the normal functioning of a school network due to hazard events interacting with vulnerable social conditions, leading to widespread adverse human, material, economic, or educational effects.
Direct consequences from poor performance of school infrastructure exposed to hazard events are:
- Fatalities and injuries caused among children and teachers
- Economic losses due to the damage inflicted on existing school infrastructure
- Downtime resulting from the disruption of education services and diminished school infrastructure capacity
Overall, the accumulative impact of disasters exacerbates the education challenges facing developing countries. Governments will find it harder to finance and operate a growing stock of school facilities and to ensure educational continuity, especially in the poorest areas. Although there is no consolidated study on the historical impacts of natural hazards on the education sector worldwide, partial data are instructive:
A single earthquake event in Sichuan (China) killed 5,535 children in 2008. The accumulative impact of low-intensity and high-frequency events such as floods and storms may be greater than the impact of a single large-scale disaster.
In Mozambique, for example, together floods in 2013 and 2015 destroyed 695 conventional classrooms and damaged 433, compared to an average of about 800 classrooms built during those years by the Ministry of Education and Human Development (World Bank 2016a).
In addition to the immediate direct impact, hazard events can have indirect impact on the learning environment in the medium term, particularly as recovery and reconstruction go forward. In Nepal, for example, two years after the 2015 earthquake nearly 1 million children were still attending classes in temporary facilities that offer poor shelter from weather.
 Adapted from IPCC 2012.
What is safer school infrastructure?
Safer school infrastructure can either refer to existing school facilities that have been subject to intervention in order to improve performance in the face of natural hazards, or to new school facilities that have integrated risk reduction measures into the planning, design and construction phases. With safer school infrastructure, the probability of potential fatalities and injuries, economic losses and downtime caused by the failure of school buildings and other infrastructure components decreases significantly. Different levels of performance can be defined to meet safety and operational targets.
Intervening in a school facility means reducing one or more of the following risk factors: hazard, exposure and vulnerability. As safety is a social construct of acceptable risk, there is no global standard. More objectively, safety is defined by the legal framework that each country establishes for the planning, design, construction and operations of school infrastructure.
From a broader perspective, vulnerability reduction intervention in school infrastructure should also be complemented by better preparation of the school community for emergency situations, and mainstreaming disaster risk management in the field of education.
 Ref. Comprehensive School Safety Framework (CSSF), A global framework in support of The Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector and The Worldwide Initiative for Safe Schools, March 2017.
What is resilient school infrastructure?
Resilient school infrastructure refers to the capacity of a school network to cope with an emergency/disaster caused by a hazard event and rapidly recover.
Resilient school infrastructure is not solely limited to improvements in school facilities, but must also include having business continuity, school emergency and reconstruction plans in place. The objective is to adjust ex-ante school facilities so that they can support contingent measures (shelter or classroom relocation, for instance) included in the continuity and emergency plans.
The continuity and emergency plans define the decision-making chain, actions, roles and resources required in case of emergency or crisis. Reconstruction planning considers the sector’s capacity to assess the impact of disasters, capture evidence-based knowledge from infrastructure’s failures, and integrate findings in the reconstruction strategy. In doing so, reconstruction planning contributes to accelerating the implementation process, maximizing investment efficiency, and reducing infrastructure vulnerability in anticipation of future hazard events.
Conceptually, improved resilience can be understood as a reduction of downtime in the aftermath of a disaster. A disaster event is likely to cause unexpected disruptions to the service provided by schools, from a few minutes’ classroom interruption to situations where children are out of school for several months, or attending classes in temporary facilities which are usually inadequate for learning purposes.
The time needed for the educational service to be fully restored to its normal condition (i.e. the downtime) is a useful measure of resilience by which improvements can be tracked over time within a given network. There are several factors governing downtime in a disaster-affected network. Some are related to the overall sector’s capacity to manage the recovery and reconstruction. Others are intrinsic to the capacity and condition of school infrastructure in the aftermath, and its capacity to handle disruptions in several points of the network.
More resilient school infrastructure tends to require less time to recover the capacity and condition of the network that is needed to restore the educational service provided under normal conditions.
Post-disaster recovery and reconstruction of school infrastructure
The aim of the recovery and reconstruction process is to control disruption. It seeks to restore the capacity and condition of school infrastructure and preserve the continuity of schooling.
Recovery refers to activities following the emergency relief phase. The focus is to quickly restore education services for affected communities through temporary measures, which include the use of Temporary Learning Centers (TLC), the reallocation of students and teachers to preserved school facilities, and social support to mitigate the impact of disaster on children (abuse and violence in shelter environments, for instance, prove to be aggravating factors). The recovery phase is a transitional period that lasts as long as reconstruction goes forward.
Reconstruction refers to interventions in existing school facilities in the form of repair, replacement, retrofitting or relocation, resulting in improved school infrastructure condition and capacity (i.e. more resilient infrastructure). As the reconstruction phase may take years to finalize, a thorough planning process is needed to align the intervention and implementation strategy to established priorities and targets over time. The goal is to maximize reconstruction efficiency and provide equitable benefits across the affected communities.
Response, Recovery and Reconstruction Phases (Source: GPSS,2016)