Good practice can be this practical
Sadi Mahwash, Fire safety in Nigerian schools
Sarah Lyons, Ventilation for Education
Edith Svec-Brandl, Learning without noise
Fire Safety in Nigerian schools
My name is Sadi Mahwash and I am a fire Engineer at Pinkrane Tech Solutions Nigeria. My article consists of two views based on my experiences as a primary and secondary school student and as a fire safety professional.
Safety is only taken seriously in Nigeria when lives and property are lost. As students, we were never taught fire safety because there were no fires. However, when a student was hit by a car while crossing the road and died, we received a lot of road safety lessons.
When I attended a boarding school, the school authorities made us pile up buckets of sand in front of our classrooms and dormitories because a fire had broken out in one of the dormitories. This resulted in the death of a student, which made the school authorities buy fire extinguishers, which they should have done in the first place.
According to the regulations of the National Fire Protection Authority, public buildings should be equipped with fire alarm systems. This is to evacuate the occupants of a burning building and save lives. However, most boarding schools in Nigeria do not have fire alarm systems. This is a risky practice because with a fire alarm system, possible fire outbreaks would be detected early and the occupants would be alerted to get to safety and allow first responders to fight a fire in its early stages.
My advice as a fire safety professional goes out to all stakeholders in Nigerian schools: Fire outbreaks are unpredictable. We should not wait until we lose lives and property to invest in the right and effective methods of fire safety education and practice in schools to protect our children and their place of learning and also help them cultivate a culture of fire safety as adults in the future.
Sadi Mahwash, Pinkrane Tech Solutions Nigeria, email@example.com
Ventilation for Education
My name is Sarah Lyons and I represent the ETUC(E) - the European trade union federation and social partner for Education - on ENETOSH. I am Lead Officer for Health, Safety and Environment at the National Education Union (NEU) in the UK. For both ETUC(E) and NEU, our focus is the health and safety of education staff, but we are also driven by what is best educationally for the pupils our members teach. Ventilation is a ‘win, win’ in both these respects.
ENETOSH’s goal of improving quality of education through a culture of prevention has never been more relevant than in respect of ventilation in educational buildings.
For the NEU, there has been consistent tension between the UK Government’s approach, of relaxing Covid-19 mitigations at the earliest opportunity, and the NEU position of seeking to minimise Covid-19 spread, to keep staff and students in school with less disruption to education.
We have argued for improved ventilation since it became apparent that Covid-19 spreads rapidly in crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces. The Government’s laissez-faire approach meant that just before schools broke up in July 2022, pupil attendance hit a five-month low. This does not bode well for the autumn and winter. Covid hasn’t gone away, with scientists predicting further waves.
The ventilation guidance which we produced with other education unions, along with our video is therefore still relevant in the context of covid. We will be encouraging our members to carry on using the CO2 monitors, which were belatedly rolled out by the Government late last year.
But ventilation isn’t just for Covid. Good ventilation also aids concentration, so will continue to pay dividends in relation to learning even after the pandemic. See Covid gives us a chance to fix indoor air pollution forever.
If improved concentration and learning, prevention of educational disruption caused by covid and other seasonal viruses, and less indoor air pollution, weren’t enough to focus minds on the need for decent ventilation, the climate crisis has given us yet more impetus to do so. Sweltering summers may already be the norm in many countries but here we were shocked when temperatures topped 40 degrees, before the start of the school holidays, which threw into sharp focus the unsuitability, and lack of resilience to heat, of many school buildings. There is an urgent need for the Government to commit to retrofit for the climate crisis, to make our schools safer, more comfortable and sustainable. We are working with the TUC and other unions on a proposed way forward. SchoolRetrofitsBriefing.pdf (tuc.org.uk).
Sarah Lyons, National Education Union (NEU), UK, Sarah.Lyons@neu.org.uk
Learning without noise
My name is Edith Svec-Brandl. I am an AUVA accident commissioner in the kindergarten and school sector in Austria, I studied health sciences and have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. In addition, I train teachers and give lectures at the University of Education in Vienna. From 2017 to 2020 I was responsible for the project Learning without Noise.
"Noise" is sound that disturbs or even harms those affected and has become a major health burden in many schools and kindergartens – for all those who work there, as well as for pupils and kindergarten children.
The aim of the project was to raise awareness of the noise problem among children and young people, teachers, other school staff, school doctors and architects. In addition, examples were worked out of how stressful noise levels in schools and kindergartens could be reduced through technical, organizational and personal optimisation measures.
The heart of the project is – after a training of the school team by the experts of the Umweltdachverband, AUVA, Umwelt-Bildungs-Zentrum Steiermark and other experts - the phase of student research: Children and young people research the causes and effects of noise with the support of their teachers and experts.
In the course of their lessons, they deal with the following in an age-appropriate manner
- with sensitisation and awareness raising for noise as a burdening health factor & with biological and physical aspects of hearing
- with social processes such as communication and conflict situations
- with organisational processes such as space use in group work and open learning
- with room and building acoustics
- using inquiry learning to make pupils active designers of these measures
As part of this research, the students, together with teachers and school management and supported by the project team, developed and implemented tailored measures to reduce noise pollution in their own school.
Thus, on the one hand, the health and well-being of the children and adults in the project schools should be increased, and on the other hand, conclusions should be drawn as to how, technical (room acoustic measures) organisational and personal (social) measures contribute to making everyday life in Austrian educational institutions quieter.
Learning from and with each other
The project produced the extensive website www.lernenohnelaerm.at, an image film, noise awareness kits for kindergarten, elementary school and secondary school, and a guide https://www.lernenohnelaerm.at/zum-anwenden/fuer-schulen/leitfaden/
This guide provides background information on noise prevention in schools. It presents implementation examples and recommendations in the four areas of room and building acoustics measures, improving organisational processes, promoting social interaction and raising awareness for schools, and is intended to invite educational institutions to follow suit. Research-based learning proved to be beneficial for the implementation in the pilot schools of all school types. This was seen as a particularly interesting but also challenging component of the project. Research-based learning is presented here using two examples that can be implemented for students of all ages. The brochure is rounded off by a summary of stumbling blocks and success factors, so that schools can better avoid hurdles on the way to "learning without noise" and thus reach the desired goal more quickly.
The project included field reports from the schools, explanatory videos, instructions on how to correctly measure sound pressure levels with sound pressure level meters and cell phone apps, as well as instructions on how to build sound absorbers. Highlights from the project were shown at a conference in Vienna in November 2019, among other things in the form of a product fair and three workshops. Extensive public relations work accompanied "Learning without Noise" from the beginning and led, among other things, to reports in Ö1, Kronen Zeitung and Kurier.
Furthermore, practical exercises for kindergarten, elementary school and secondary level 1 were created.
Every school has its own framework conditions, both in terms of construction and personnel. Used optimally, they can be resources for noise reduction. The examples of measures presented in the brochure cannot therefore always be implemented on a 1:1 basis. They are intended to provide food for thought for developing and implementing school-specific measures.
Duration of the project: 2017-2020
Project partners and funding: Created within the framework of the project "Learning without noise", funded by the funds COMMON HEALTH GOALS from the framework pharmaceutical contract, a cooperation of the Austrian pharmaceutical industry and social security.
Representing the team: Mag. Edith Svec-Brandl, BEd., AUVA – the Austrian Workers' Compensation Board, Vienna