No parent should face the risk of their child’s school building collapsing in a disaster. However, millions of children around the world to go class in schools that are vulnerable in an earthquake or typhoon. When a school collapses, local education is thrown into chaos. Sometimes classes are held in ad-hoc community centers or tents. Often, students lack access to consistent education again until the building is reconstructed—a process that can take years.

Additionally, in regions where public space is scarce, schools play an important role as focal points in the greater community. Aside from serving as a place of learning, they often double as community centers, meeting halls, and emergency shelters.
School buildings should protect students during natural disasters. Build Change builds local partnerships to promote safe designs for new schools and to train local builders and engineers to retrofit existing unsafe schools.

A community-based approach, where community members are engaged in the process of school reconstruction, is at the core of building culturally-accepted, safe schools.

Multi-faceted Approach

Our Safer Schools initiative includes:

  • Reviewing existing school designs and making recommendations to improve their resistance to earthquakes and typhoons, making the plans easier to interpret, and validating the cost and quantity of materials needed for construction.
  • Training engineers and project managers to provide better supervision of construction.
  • Educating teachers, parents, and communities on the importance of safe construction, and providing trainings so they can support in the supervision of construction and identify problems when the engineer or project manager is off-site.
  • Developing and distributing simplified, image-based tools to assist teachers, parents, and communities in understanding safe construction techniques and monitoring construction.
  • Providing technical assistance to partners and communities to build a system of checks and balances into the construction process, thus incentivizing the contractor to build safely.

World Bank Global Program for Safer Schools

We are partnering with the World Bank’s Global Program for Safer Schools (GPSS), focusing on school buildings.

“The aim of the is to make school facilities, and the communities they serve, more resilient to natural hazards. The Program’s development objective is to save lives, reduce the physical impact of disasters on school infrastructure, and minimize the negative educational outcomes resulting from disaster.”

Government Partnerships

Build Change partners with local governments to produce building guidelines and to train engineers to implement and enforce these standards while building schools.

Safe Schools Programs


We are working with the Department of Education and community-led school committees in Indonesia to complete retrofits of multiple schools, which will keep thousands of people safe.

The Philippines

In partnering with the Department of Education (DepEd) and local and international organizations to improve their school programs in the Philippines, Build Change is assisting these organizations in adopting a community-driven approach.


In Nepal, we are working with communities to rebuild their schools stronger than before the earthquake in April 2015.