Girls school buildings to undergo safety checks

Updated 12 May 2013
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Girls school buildings to undergo safety checks

Female education supervisors will carry out inspections of private and international girls’ school buildings to ensure their safety, according to a directive from the Ministry of Education.
Supervisors will ensure that inspections are conducted in construction and electric fittings, and that there is availability of security and safety tools and management.
The move will prevent major accidents including fires caused in schools because of the poor safety and security record.
The directive comes in the wake of several incidents involving fires that have left women dead or injured. One case involved Jeddah’s Baraim Al-Watan Girls’ School in which three teachers died and several other teachers and students were injured in the November 2011 blaze. Emergency exits were either blocked or improperly marked.
This exercise is part of the ministry’s move to make sure the schools comply with all safety and security regulations before they start operations in the next academic year.
The ministry, which does not employ engineers or technical personnel, urged the school owners and governing boards to take care of safety and security aspect, said Awatef bin Fahd Al-Harthi, director general of private and international education at the ministry.
Al-Harthi, who issued a circular to regional education departments, said supervisors will visit the schools and fill out an evaluation form that has to be approved by the department.
The form requires supervisors to ensure the safety of the school building’s “construction” and “architecture.” There are provisions in the forms to mention irregularities and to furnish reports about cracks in the walls or water leaks and completion of maintenance works in the school building.
The form also requires the supervisor to ensure the availability and operating status of fire extinguishers, the availability of standard-meeting emergency exits, first-aid kit and medications (small pharmacy), the quality of electrical fittings and the availability of an early-warning system. Al-Harthi’s directives stipulated the evaluation form has to be signed by the supervisor and the school principal prior to the signature of education department’s director.
“This is a commendable step of the ministry,” said Ibrahim Al-Qayid, an educator and member of the National Society for Human Rights. He urged all school managements to check on the school buildings and to monitor air quality, fire code compliance, policies on chemicals and hazardous waste, as well as pest control and chemical spraying of school grounds.
Schools must adopt emergency safety plans, said Al-Qayid, adding that “there must be adequate emergency exits, safety equipment and wide windows in school buildings.”


Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

The end of the driving ban is expected to help bring an economic windfall for Saudi women. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 June 2018
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Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

  • The historic move is a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Saudi Arabia, says businesswoman
  • A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market

The end of the driving ban will boost women’s financial power and allow them to play a bigger role in economic and social diversification in line with Vision 2030, prominent businesswomen said on Friday.

Hind Khalid Al-Zahid was the first Saudi woman designated as an executive director — for Dammam Airport Company — and also heads the Businesswomen Center at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

She sees the historic move as a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Kingdom.

“Women being allowed to drive is very important; of course this will help a lot in sustainable development as the lifting of the ban on women driving came as a wonderful opportunity to increase women’s participation in the workforce,” she told Arab News on Friday, ahead of the end of the ban on Sunday.

She added that women in the job market are under-represented; they make up to 22 percent of the national workforce of about six million according to official estimates. Lifting the ban will help to take women’s representation in the workforce to 30 percent by 2030, she said.

“This is not just the right thing to do for women’s emancipation, but also an essential step in economic and social development as part of the reforms,” she said.

She said that there were different obstacles in increasing women’s participation in the workforce and other productive activities, and the driving ban was one of them. It was a strategic issue that needed to be addressed on a priority basis. With the issue resolved, it would help immensely in giving Saudi women better representation as they would help to diversify the Saudi economy and society.

She said that women could contribute hugely to the workforce and labor market as half of Saudi human resources were female, and unless allowed to excel in different sectors it would not be possible to do better, mainly because of restricted mobility.

A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market.

Nouf Ibrahim, a businesswoman in Riyadh, said: “It will surely boost female economic participation and help increase women’s representation in the workforce immensely. It will also help to reduce the overall national unemployment rate as most of the unemployed are women and many of them are eligible as university graduates.”

She echoed the opinion that the move would help to bring an economic windfall for Saudi women, making it easier for them to work and do business, and thus play a bigger and better role that would help economic and social diversification in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

“Being able to drive from Sunday onwards after the ban is lifted will be a wonderful experience. Earlier we were dependent on a male family member and house driver to take us to workplace, to the shopping center, school or other required places for some work, now we can drive and that will allow active participation in productive work,” Sulafa Hakami, a Saudi woman working as the digital communication manager with an American MNC in Riyadh, told Arab News.

“Saudi women can now share effectively the bigger and better responsibilities,” she said.