|© UNICEF/HQ07-0687/Josh Estey|
|Workmen rebuild SDN 30 Labui Primary School in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.|
Current externalities affecting the environment – such as deforestation, climate change, migration, poverty and food insecurity – will have a great impact on communities across the globe. People everywhere, especially children, will face monumental, interconnected challenges that will alter their ways of life at the most basic level. The devastating floods in Pakistan in 2010 and their impact on the environment in many ways presage the larger-scale emergencies to come.
The world population has more than doubled during the past 100 years and will reach 9 billion by 2050. Estimates predict that for the first time in human history there will be more urban than rural dwellers; Asia has already reached that tipping point. Large migrations are increasing the pressure on existing natural resources and ageing infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, especially in developing nations. By 2030, we will need the equivalent of two Earths to deal with carbon dioxide waste and to keep up with expected levels of natural resource consumption.
What we do today – and how we design our next plan of action to educate our children – will determine our impact on future generations.
Education has proved to be the most effective vehicle in developing programmes to decrease mortality rates, increase health awareness and empower people to take charge of their destinies. Education has also moved to the forefront in emergency situations, as a means of restoring a sense of stability to children’s lives and society at large. Child-friendly schools are leading the way in innovative implementation of educational curricula in the field of architecture by making strides in developing structurally sound school designs that are conducive to learning, as part of the ‘build back better’ initiative. Assessing existing educational facilities and building new learning spaces for the 69 million children who are not enrolled in school is a daunting task.
To address these evolving challenges, schools must continue to push beyond the academic realm and strive for a wider, socially positive impact. The school of the future will provide an education that is relevant to the child’s cultural experience, the environmental context and the state of world events. Schools will serve as epicentres for community improvement by providing adequate and healthy learning spaces as well as multi-purpose community spaces, thus maximizing their value.
This is the time to imagine, design and build the school of a post-carbon society, with sustainable construction systems and educational tools that will enable people to minimize or even end dependency on external aid. New technologies for construction, cost-effective school models, lessons learned and best practices from the field will find a central and easily accessible space. UNICEF is working to share information related to school design and construction and to strengthen the growing community of practice involved in the implementation of healthier learning environments.
The following resources and publications do not necessarily reflect the views of UNICEF. These resources are presented as useful tools in the effort to exchange knowledge relating to school design and construction.
Guidelines and tools