70 Jeddah schools shut over safety violations
By Rizwan Khatik - Tue Mar 20, 11:37 am
The Civil Defense’s safety committee in Jeddah has shut down 70 private schools for violating safety rules and regulations. The committee has also warned another 300 schools that punitive measures would be taken against them if they continue failing to fulfill safety specifications, Al-Madinah daily reported yesterday.
The Civil Defense issued a number of regulations aimed at ensuring general safety in schools, including the allocation of a minimum space of three square meters for each student at both government and private schools.
There are 1,800 government schools and 600 private schools in Jeddah.
In a letter sent to Abdullah Al-Thaqafi, director general of education in Jeddah, the city’s Civil Defense Director Brig. Gen. Abdullah Jeddawi said all schools must comply with safety rules and regulations without exception. “There will not be any leniency shown with regard to implementing the regulations that are aimed at ensuring safety of all those who use educational facilities,” he said.
According to the regulations, each school should produce safety certificates issued by an engineering consultancy firm approved by the municipality.
Echoing the view of the Civil Defense director, Al-Thaqafi said his department is giving top priority to the safety of students. “We won’t give any concession to owners of private schools with regard to implementing safety measures. We respect the demands of school owners but the safety of students is a line that won’t be crossed,” he said.
Al-Thaqafi sent an urgent circular to the owners of all private schools and owners of rented government school buildings in Jeddah asking them to strictly comply with the safety regulations set by Civil Defense.
Dakheel Al-Seraisry, member of the private school committee in Jeddah, said some 400 schools in Jeddah do not meet safety specifications. He said it was quite difficult to find buildings that meet the Civil Defense standards.
According to the conditions set by the Ministry of Education, the minimum space per student is 1.5 square meters. Many private school owners said the Civil Defense condition, which requires doubling the space of existing school facilities, is arbitrary and difficult to meet.
Meanwhile, more than 50 private school owners are planning to file a lawsuit at the administrative court against the Civil Defense decision to shut down schools on safety grounds.
Mansour Al-Khonaizan, head of the national committee for international education, expressed dismay over the decision.
“Most of these schools are operating with proper licenses from Civil Defense and are renewing their licenses every year. There could be some lapses in the case of some schools,” he said, adding that they do not justify closure of the schools.