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2013年8月19日 (月)

学校の耐震化 つり天井の撤去を急ぎたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun August 18, 2013
Suspended ceilings should be removed to boost quake resistance at schools
学校の耐震化 つり天井の撤去を急ぎたい(8月17日付・読売社説)

Schools must be safe places that protect children at a time of disaster. They can also serve as shelters for local residents.

We call for the disaster prevention capability of schools to be strengthened.

A survey by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry showed that 89 percent of 120,460 school buildings and gymnasiums at public primary and middle schools across the nation met national earthquake-resistance standards as of April. The survey also found that 86 percent of structures at public high schools were quake-resistant.

These high percentages, which resulted from a push for reinforcement work and other antiseismic efforts in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, are laudable. But progress differs among regions. In some municipalities, the percentage of quake-resistant schools remains below 50 percent. Such municipalities should accelerate their efforts.

One major concern in this connnection is the delay in dealing with suspended ceilings, which experts have pointed out are at risk of collapsing in earthquakes.

Suspended ceilings made of gypsum wallboard are effective for noise and heat insulation, but their hanging frames make them vulnerable to movement. Even though the buildings themselves are resistant to quakes, their suspended ceilings could collapse. This requries attention.

In the March 2011 earthquake, many such ceilings fell in large facilities such as event halls. In school gymnasiums, falling ceilings injured students.

The survey, in which the ministry asked about suspended ceilings for the first time, showed that such ceilings were installed in about 8,500 structures, including gymnasiums and auditoriums, at public primary, middle and high schools. The survey found that 90 percent of the structures lacked measures to prevent ceilings from falling. This is a problem.

The collapse of a ceiling at a gymnasium where many students gather could be catastrophic. Even if a collapse happened when no one was there, it could prevent the gymnasium from being used as a shelter.

Safety checks urged

The ministry has drawn up a guide, which includes a list of safety check points, and urged municipal governments to carry out safety checks thoroughly. We believe suspended ceilings should be removed as soon as possible in light of public safety.

Meanwhile, many schools are not prepared to serve as local disaster-management centers. Among public schools designated by municipalities as emergency shelters, only 28 percent have in-house power generators, while 34 percent are equipped with water reservoirs and other useful devices.

In the Great East Japan Earthquake, many people were forced to take refuge amid prolonged power outages and cuts in water supply. We urge municipalities’ disaster-management sections and boards of education to work together to make necessary preprations.

It is also crucial to raise public awareness through education. Last year, public high schools in Tokyo began a project in which students stay at their schools overnight, prepare meals outdoors and receive training in conducting rescue activities.

If high school students gain experience such as taking care of the elderly through the training, they could play a key role in operating shelters in disasters. Regularly cultivating the spirit of volunteerism could prove to be useful in an emergency.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 17, 2013)
(2013年8月17日01時40分  読売新聞)


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