2,000 girls in Jeddah face danger of school collapse

The building in the Hamadaniyah area looks perfect from outside but inside it lacks all safety measures

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There are concerns that a two-story rented building in north Jeddah that has been converted into a government school poses a serious threat to the lives of the 2,000 girls that use it, reported Makkah daily.

The building in the Hamadaniyah area looks perfect from outside but inside it lacks all safety measures, parents and teachers claimed.

Though the building bears a signboard saying it is the 96th elementary school for girls, in fact it has also been made into an intermediate and secondary school.

The 800 elementary students come to school early in the morning and leave about at 11 a.m.

The 1,200 intermediate and secondary students will come immediately after that and remain until around 6 p.m.

There is no other government school for girls in the neighborhood, which is why it looks after so many students.

There are about 70 schoolteachers and administrators who have tried to come up with individual solutions to the overcrowding issue of but have not been successful so far.

The school's main gate is very small and the girls are at a risk of being caught up in a stampede because a large number of them either leave or arrive at the school at the same time.

Parents and teachers said what makes things worse is the lack of a guard to organize the arrival and departure of students.

As a result, parents have resorted to a simple solution and begun using school’s microphones to call the names of their daughters.

A teacher complained to Makkah daily that the air-conditioners were not functioning properly because they are working for about 12 hours a day to cover all three groups of students.

She criticized the lack of a guard because it has made it difficult to organize the entry and exit of the students.

Another teacher said they bring their own housemaids from their homes to clean the school that allegedly only has two cleaning women, including one who is old and cannot do her job properly.

The school, which opened about seven years ago, also used to host adult education women students until last year.

A third teacher said the school has no lab. “An elementary teacher constructed a lab on her own personal expense but the school management decided to make it a room for the teachers because of their large number,” she said.

Abdulaziz Al-Rouqi, a father of one of the student, expressed fear that a disaster might happen at the school as a result of the large number of students and lack of safety measures.

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette on Monday, Sept. 08, 2014.

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