Thousands studying at unsafe schools: report

By Chung Li-hua and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Fri, Jan 11, 2019 - Page 3

More than 140,000 students across the nation are attending schools where safety is a concern, the results of a Control Yuan investigation released yesterday showed.

The investigation, which was conducted by Control Yuan members Bau Tzong-ho (包宗和), Chiang Ming-tsang (江明蒼) and Lin Sheng-fong (林盛豐), found that the Ministry of Education had allocated more than NT$94 billion (US$3.05 billion) toward earthquake resistance evaluations and the reinforcement, demolition and reconstruction of public elementary and junior-high school buildings from 2006 to last year.

However, as of Oct. 2 last year, 25 school buildings, or 292 classrooms, still needed to be evaluated, with 1,569 school buildings, or 23,456 classrooms, still needing reinforcement and 401 school buildings, or 2,879 classrooms, needing to be demolished, the report said.

Students were still being taught in 226 of the 401 buildings that were awaiting demolition, it said.

The cities and counties with the most buildings that were still in use, but required demolition were Tainan with 38 buildings, New Taipei City with 32, Taichung with 24, Pingtung County with 20, Miaoli County with 16 and Kaohsiung with 16, the report said.

Meanwhile, New Taipei City had the most public elementary or junior-high school buildings that needed reinforcement at 338, followed by Taichung with 223, Kaohsiung with 156, Yunlin County with 131 and Tainan with 115, it said.

In the 2017-2018 school year, more than 110,000 students studied in buildings that required reinforcement and more than 20,000 studied in buildings that should have been dismantled, the Control Yuan said, citing estimates by the K-12 Education Administration.

The ministry also lacks sufficient knowledge about how earthquake-resistant and safe private elementary and junior-high schools in the nation are, the report said.

Based on the information at hand, more than one-third of private elementary and junior-high schools could need reinforcement against earthquakes, it said.