1. How many educational facilities will be targeted from the EU4Schools Programme?

The #EU4Schools Programme, conceived as a response to the devastating 26th November 2019 earthquake, aims to support Albanian national and local governments in reducing further social and economic losses, and to accelerate the recovery process through educational facility repairs and reconstruction. The Programme is being implemented by the UNDP, in cooperation with the Albanian Government. It will specifically focus on indicatively 58 education facilities affected by the disaster. Based on detailed structural assessments some of them will be reconstructed and some will be repaired.

2. Where are those educational facilities located?

The educational facilities to benefit from this Programme are located in the municipalities of Durrës, Kruja, Kurbin, Kavaja, Kamza, Tirana, Mirdita, Lezha, Vora, Shijak, Rrogozhina- areas most affected by the earthquake. It is expected that around 20,000 students will directly benefit from the Programme.

3. What is the role of the partner municipalities?

Municipalities targeted by the Programme are key partners in project implementation and monitoring of the works Each municipality has a senior representative in the EU4Schools Steering Commission. Municipalities participate in the consultation process of school designs. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is signed between UNDP Albania and every beneficiary municipality. The MoU foresees joint obligations, responsibilities and roles of all actors, to be followed during the repairing and rebuilding processes. It includes also preconditions to be fulfilled by municipalities before the start of the works, such as delivering on time the construction permits and other documents related to land ownership, demolishing the old facilities and clearing the site where new schools will be built. The Municipalities will take over the newly repaired or rebuilt education facilities and will take charge of their full operation and adequate maintenance with the objective of protecting and sustaining the investments and ensuring quality teaching environment for all students and teachers.

4. How will EU4Schools guarantee that educational facilities will have better quality and will resist earthquakes and other environmental hazards? What does the new approach #BuildBackBetter imply?

The construction works will be implemented in full compliance to the national legislation and Eurocode 8 as the standard providing a uniform approach for the design of new buildings, and seismic retrofitting of the existing buildings, including disaster-resilient technology, ensuring that investments are “disaster-smart”, quality improvements, energy efficient systems, and accessibility features for those with disabilities.

Hazardous construction materials (e.g. asbestos, POP containing sealants) will be banned and environmentally friendly furnishings and equipment (e.g. LED lights instead of mercury containing fluorescent light bulbs) will be promoted.

The design of the proposed reconstructions and repaired options are being consulted with local government, parents, teachers and students in order to feature their needs and requirements, based on the approach #BuildBackBetter, which offers the opportunity to rebuild stronger, safer, more disaster-resilient infrastructure and systems and with higher standards. Such methodology also enables an all-inclusive and participatory decision making for its beneficiaries during both the rehabilitation planning and execution phase.

The #BuildBackBetter methodology also includes the application of accessible construction principles, e.g. building ramps for wheelchairs (EU 6° incline), accessible door sills, stairs, doors, hygienic facilities, among others. Hygienic facilities should comply with EU standards, taking hygiene, child protection and gender into account. Chemistry and physics labs shall be equipped according to EU safety standards and include e.g. fume hoods in chemistry cabinets/labs, secure and safe storage rooms for chemicals, etc.

Besides, #BuildBackBetter envisages that interventions in education infrastructure will take in consideration all appropriate energy efficiency measures. Increasing energy savings in education sector have four potential benefits: economic (by avoiding costs to the Albanian economy); financial (by reducing the costs of the supplied energy and schools’ electricity bill); comfort (for students and teachers as building users); environmental (by reducing the GHG emissions).

Furthermore, #BuildBackBetter proposes that the recovery process be utilized as an opportunity to upgrade the services of the existing buildings and infrastructure to meet the current requirements of the learning process in these facilities.

5. Did the schools consider the needs of the community of children, teachers and parents?

Based on the Build Forward Together approach, 20 public consultations with more than 700 beneficiaries including representatives of the local government and local institutions, teachers, parents and students have been held by UNDP Albania so far. After the presentation of the proposed design by design companies, beneficiaries are invited to share their views and to express their needs and proposals related to the future schools and kindergartens.

The students and pupils with special needs will enjoy a greater access and safety in their new schools. Furthermore, the teachers and students demand for libraries, green spaces, light, and sciences labs have been considered. Dedicated spaces for medical care and psychological support are foreseen in all reconstructed facilities. Parents suggestion to keep the school separated from the kindergarten will be also respected.