Qatar has introduced new 'health and safety regulation' guidelines to all schools in the country. The safety regulations are applicable to all schools, including the Community and International Schools, operating in the country.
The schools will have to strictly adhere to the new regulations from the next academic year. The operating licence of the institutions that fail to comply with the regulations will be cancelled with immediate effect, Fahad Jamal Al Jaber, the group manager of the newly constituted Health Safety Security & Environment (HSSE) said here yesterday.
The initiative comes in the wake of the growing number of fires breaking out in the country.
Qatar Foundation (QF), which formulated the plans and programmes for the renewed health and safety measures for the schools, has constituted an Interim Committee. This committee is the first entity in the country to standardise and oversee safety regulations in the schools. Chaired by QF, the committee comprises several government bodies, including the Ministry of Education, Civil Defence, Supreme Education Council (SEC), the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) and the Supreme Council for Environment and Natural Reserves (SCENR).
"The main objective of he committee is to make sure all government independent and private schools comply with the policies determined by the committee. Monitoring and evaluation of safety systems in schools will take place at several administrative levels, including individual schools emergency response teams. There will be separate risk assessment review meetings on weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually", Al Jaber said.
The annual assessments will be made directly by the Civil Defence team. If the team finds a school that has failed to meet the safety guidelines in its annual assessment, the licence of this school will stand cancelled, he said.
"Of course, most of the schools in Qatar have a firefighting system. But we have realised that putting up merely a firefighting system is not enough to face a possible emergency. In the new initiative, we are focusing on fire preventive mechanisms rather than firefighting", he said.
As per the guidelines, each school has to set up an emergency response team. The training for the school teams will be imparted by QF. The training will have its focus on fire drills, first aid and evacuation procedures. Al Jaber said that each school should constitute an emergency response teams comprising seven members to ensure proper implementation of the safety guidelines. The committee must have the representations from the students, faculty and school management. QF will host health and safety training to these committees, he said.
"Through the training sessions that are scheduled to start from October 2008, we hope to educate faculty, staff and students at schools on how to respond to emergency situations in the most efficient way. The new safety committee will be in charge of ensuring a safe and healthy environment for all students in all schools in Qatar which contributes to quality education", he said.
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