Teachers and Parents: Schools Must Be Made Earthquake Resistant

Secondary school teachers union, parents group say school buildings too antiquated to withstand quake.

The secondary school teachers union and an umbrella group representing parents of students in the education system petitioned the High Court on Wednesday to demand that the Education Ministry and the local municipalities undertake maintenance checks on school buildings to ensure they can withstand earthquakes.

The petitioners are also requesting the ministry deny use of any buildings that have not been inspected properly and those with safety violations that have yet to be corrected.

The petition, which was submitted by attorney Sigal Pa'il, claims that the education system fields schools in 1,500 buildings that were built at least 35 years ago, some of them by antiquated standards. "Educational institutions are not safeguarded and are not safe for students and teachers, nor are they ready to withstand an earthquake," the petition reads. "This is all in violation of directives issued by the ministry director general, government decisions, and instructions given by the Knesset Education Committee and the state comptroller - all of which mandate safety checks."

The petitions also requests the Supreme Court deliberate on the matter before the start of the new school year, which is scheduled for September 1.

"The ministry is operating according to the regulations of the inter-ministerial steering committee on earthquakes," the education ministry said in a statement. "The committee proposed the government set aside NIS 5 billion towards fortifying schools and hospitals."