Nearly 100 buildings across 55 schools in Romania will be upgraded to meet modern standards for safety, resilience, inclusion, sustainability and digital access as part of a new, €100 million Safer, Inclusive, and Sustainable Schools Project, approved last Thursday by the World Bank Board of Directors.
This project, implemented by the Ministry of Education, aims to comprehensively address development challenges related to school infrastructure, demonstrate the process and impact of investing in safer and modern schools and to establish the institutional foundations for efficient and strategic long-term investment. Access to modern classrooms is key to improving educational outcomes, increasing enrollment, and integrating different student populations, and in Romania there is an urgent need to improve educational outcomes, especially against key metrics such reduced student absenteeism and improved retention and attainment.
“A child born in Romania today is expected to only be 58 percent as productive as they could be if they had access to better education and health services,” notes Tatiana Proskuryakova (photo), World Bank Country Manager for Romania. “Research shows that the quality of education infrastructure directly affects student learning, so these improvements will directly benefit students today – which, in turn, will benefit the whole country into the future.”
In addition, the project will offer support to municipalities to invest in education infrastructure. It also builds on momentum in the country to invest in disaster and climate resilience, with resilient schools providing emergency shelter in disasters and flexible educational spaces providing opportunities for community activities. Romania is one of the countries in the EU most at risk from earthquakes, with hundreds of lives lost and tens of thousands of buildings damaged in earthquakes in the last 200 years – a situation that will only be made worse by the impacts of climate change. Today, more than 1,000 schools around the country are at high risk of several damage or collapse in an earthquake, or do not meet modern fire codes, sanitation or air quality requirements. Moreover, schools play an important role in raising disaster and climate change risks awareness and improving emergency preparedness.
“Romania has a high proportion of school buildings that fail to meet safety, basic sanitary, and energy efficiency standards, which pose a substantial risk to lives and the economy in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, future earthquakes, and ongoing impacts of climate change,” says Alanna Simpson, World Bank Lead Disaster Risk Management Specialist.
“This project addresses the country’s urgent need for holistic investments in safer, inclusive, modern and sustainable school infrastructure which is designed to help students, teachers and communities today while also better preparing the country for the uncertainties of future.”