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close this bookEducational Spaces No. 3 - Building Basic Education (UNESCO, 1992, 16 p.)
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Paris. January 1992/No. 3

Newsletter published by the Educational Architecture Units of UNESCO

Example of a Village Basic Education Centre


Presentation of Newsletter No. 3

The Educational Architecture Units of UNESCO present in this issue projects of the 1990/1991 period. These projects have been realized in the light of "Education For All" and show the efforts undertaken by the Educational Architecture Units of UNESCO to design and build a physical environment in accordance with the ideas declared at the World Conference on Basic Education For All in Jomtien, Thailand, in March 1990. This Conference was organized by an interagency commission (UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank) and brought together experts of UN agencies and NGOs.

The Educational Architecture Units of UNESCO play a crucial role in the promotion of Basic Education For All, by developing Village Basic Education Centres in various regions. These VBECs are not only a place for community participation but are also the result of inter-agency cooperation in the fields of education, health and skills training.

Besides projects for basic education this Newsletter presents educational buildings for primary and secondary education and educational furniture design and gives you an overview on activities in the field of educational architecture.


To the reader:

We would very much appreciate your suggestions on what you would like to see in the next issues. Your views, ideas, news....are most welcome, particularly contributions/articles on your own working experiences and problems. We will devote one page just for this purpose. Please help us fill it in!


UNESCO/African Development Bank (ADB) Education Project GAMBIA:

At present Gambia's educational system of education and training is undergoing major reforms. The Gambian Government therefore signed an agreement with UNESCO for assistance to both educational planning and school construction in order to improve primary education and educational planning.

In different parts of the country nine primary schools are under construction as well as a Book Production and Material Resource Unit, including offices, printing facilities and graphic workshops. UNESCO's Regional Office in Dakar is carrying out the monitoring and the technical supervision.



Prototype primary schools in rural GUINEA:

In collaboration with the national school construction service of Guinea, UNESCO Dakar, with financing from IDA through a national project loan, constructed prototype primary schools in four different rural settings.

The aim of this project was not only to provide a sample of functional facilities, but also to test the abilities of local artisans to construct a school building at low cost

Results of this research are being utilized for normsetting in the framework of the "Structural Readjustment of the Education Sector in Guinea".

Upon completion of this project a document was published jointly by UNESCO Dakar and the Guinean Ministry of Education:

"The final Report of the Prototype Construction Project".

This document is available upon request



For all complementary information, please contact:

The UNESCO Regional Office in Dakar
B.P. 3311 Dakar, Sgal - fax: 23 83 93


Study for a new infrastructure for secondary schools in Argentina

A study undertaken by the Ministry of Culture and Education with UNESCO's technical assistance presents different pedagogical and didactical aspects of education and their influence on architectural space. The study includes guidelines for architectural programming, a basic hypothesis for architectural programming and a proposal for computer-assisted architectural programming, as well as the formation of a new organization. The presentation of basic space units leads to a final conclusion and recommendations.

Authors of the study:

Ms Maria Isabel Alvarez (curriculum)
Ms Christina Dieguez (educational planning)
Mr Miguel Cangiano (UNESCO architect)



For further information please contact:

Direccion General de Planeamiento Educativo
Ministerio de Cultura y Educacion
Pizzurno 9351020
Buenos Aires


Final Thesis by Bernhard Ritschel
Technical Vocational Training Centre for Portsmouth, Dominica

On the basis of a project for a Technical Vocational Training Centre in Portsmouth, Dominica, this thesis deals with aspects of:

- school design in developing countries;
- school buildings in the cultural and architectural environment of a country;
- the design of a school building and its social status
- research on user needs with the help of questionnaires.

This work is an excellent example of serious educational buildings planning in the environment of developing countries with emphasis on architectural design and showing a profound knowledge of socio-cultural circumstances and their influence on educational space.



Pilot project of a Community Education Centre built in Guayana City with UNESCO's technical assistance support. The project was constructed, using local materials and techniques, with the active participation of students of a technical school located near the site. Their participation as labour was part of their training.

The Educational Community Centre caters for the requirements of formal education (primary school) as well as for adult education (skills training in the workshops and literacy courses in classrooms). It also serves as a cultural centre to meet the needs of a human settlement of approximately 1,000 families. The project was published by UNESCO under the title "Construcciones Escolares Gestionadas con Participacion Comunitaria en Zonas Sub-urbanas de Venezuela".



For further information please contact:

Mr Eduardo MillBR>Av. Venezuela Edif Frontera
El Rosal Caracas 1060


Xth International UNESCO/UIA Seminar on Management and Maintenance of Educational Spaces in Rural or Periurban Areas, 8-12 April 1991 Caracas, Venezuela.

UIA Working Group
"Educational and Cultural Spaces"
Objectives of the seminar

Management and maintenance of educational spaces, although extremely important, are very often neglected due to lack of sufficient funding. In many countries the budget allocated for maintenance is so small that it has no impact. This problem occurs practically in all urban and non-urban areas, but it takes a particular form in the case of the rural and periurban areas. Two factors are of importance in these two areas, a technical and a social, which make the problems of maintenance more complex. The main objective of the seminar was to raise the awareness of the participants as well as the countries they represented.

Some of the specific points of the seminar were:

- Presentation of a study on evaluation of maintenance manuals (Venezuela)

- Presentation of recent studies in various countries;

- Presentation of case studies in various countries;

- Discussion of policy, programme financing, organisational structure and community participation;

- Formulation of recommendation.

The following countries participated in the seminar:

Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Finland, France, Greece, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, U.S.A, Venezuela.


When everything is fine
No-one remembers about maintenance

When something goes wrong
They say it doesn't exist

When it is a question of expense
They say it's not necessary

But when there is really no maintenance everyone agrees that there should be some


Considerations and recommendations:

The Foundation of Educational Buildings and Furnishing (FEDE) in Venezuela is the organization responsible for maintenance of educational facilities at the national level. It started in 1978 with the creation of "Committees of Maintenance" at several levels, and continued to upgrade its programme according to its experience. In 1989 FEDE published a maintenance manual with the collaboration of UNESCO. Maintenance has to be considered as a cultural phenomenon and it is the task of the government to promote the idea of maintenance at all levels on the basis of a global concept. The building design therefore has to meet the needs, and planned materials and techniques have to be chosen according to the expected lifetime of a building.

Maintenance starts the moment a building is in its best condition. A global plan of maintenance involves two phases, firstly the planning and secondly the operation. The quality of the architectural design already has a major influence on future maintenance. Participation of the community in the planning and construction phase of educational buildings creates awareness among the future users of the necessity for maintenance and encourages them to take responsibility for "their" educational building and facilities. It is the governments' task not only to create educational committees concerned with maintenance at different levels, but also to promote public awareness in the area and offer training courses for administrators, teachers and users. Emphasis has to be put on decentralisation, so that decisions can be taken with full responsibility at all levels. This will require adequate training at all levels.


UNOCA/UNESCO's project on "Basic Education Services for Afghanistan"










Temporary facilities

Temporary educational shelter:

The idea of using a tent as temporary educational shelter emerged to satisfy the need for educational space in a country devastated by war. It could be easily established and developed into a more complete and permanent educational facility if peace conditions would so permit or, alternatively be rapidly removed and transferred to another location. The tent is equipped with a room-divider, squatting desks and educational material, both for teachers and students. The room-divider containing blackboard, pin-up board, book shelves and storage for educational material, divides the tent into two different educational spaces. Afghan students traditionally sit on the floor and the squatting desks provided can be used as a little writing table, bench, platform or book shelf. Both the room-divider and the squatting desk are expected to be produced in the workshops of the Village Basic Education Centres in Afghanistan.

Village Basic Education Centre:

A typical VBEC includes three classrooms for children, a multi-purpose reading room where literacy can be taught to adults and young people, two or three workshops for skills training for girls and women and for men, one room for day-care centre, a teacher's house, a well and toilets, areas for poultry raising and vegetable growing and space for leisure activities.

The services required are not limited to the teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic to school-age children, but include educational programmes which reach all members of the community regardless of age and sex.


Village Basic Education Centres Project

Village Basic Education Centres (VBECs) in Afghanistan:

In 1989 UNESCO signed contracts with three different Afghan NGOs to promote the idea of Basic Education For All and to build Village Basic Education Centres in the south and east of Afghanistan. Two VBECs were built in Wardak province, one in Ghazni province and one in Farah province. T h e design for additional VBECs was prepared by UNESCO architects in the project office in Quetta, Pakistan, to be built in Afghanistan with extensive community participation. The temporary tent school in this regard is seen as the start of an educational process. UNESCO provides the community with an initial temporary educational space while the community contributes local labour for the construction of a well and the boundary wall and provides a teacher. After this commitment by the community, UNESCO will provide as a second step a "construction kit", consisting of doors, windows and roofing material to build a three-c l a s sroom school, workshops for skills training health centre, day care, teacher accommodation and latrine. The final layout of such a VBEC will be designed together with the community according to their needs. The UNESCO Basic Education Adviser, together with the assistance of Afghan NGOs, provides training in literacy techniques, adult learning and community mobilization and develops reading materials. Both the temporary tent school and the VBECs are provided with teacher and student kits.

UNESCO provided assistance to the following provinces: Farah in the west of the country, Kandahar, Ghazni, Logar Wardak and Paktika in the south and east and Kabul.



VBEC Wardak:

NGO: Engineering Services for Afghanistan,
Shash Qala and Guli Khel Villages,
Both centres have been built with stone walls by local labour. Doors and windows were produced by ESAR and shipped to the construction site.



VBEC Ghazni:

NGO: Khorasan's Assistance Group,
Anguri Village, Jaghori District,
A pre-war primary school, heavily damaged during the war, was completely refurbished and upgraded to a Village Basic Education Centre. Too many students are already enrolled in the new school. The VBEC shortly before completion.



VBEC Farah:

NGO: Farah Reconstruction Foundation,
Alakini Village, Jowin District,
The boundary wall receives an additional layer.

At the same time three primary schools in Kabul were refurbished and, as soon as the situation allows access to all parts of Afghanistan, UNESCO will expand its educational assistance and the promotion of Basic Education For All.


For further information contact:

UNESCO Project Office Quetta
P.O.Box 317
Tel/Fax 92-81-73266


Sherubtse Degree College

In 1985 the Royal Government of Bhutan, with the assistance of UNDP, started to build the first degree college in Kanglung. The University of Delhi seconded qualified faculty staff, financed by the Colombo Plan. Initially, faculties in Arts, Commerce and Science were opened. Four years later the Royal Government asked UNESCO for assistance to provide services in connection with the development of a campus master plan for a rational physical development of the College, financed by UNDP. A campus planner architect, a civil engineer and an educational planner carried out studies and the implementation of this project.


Prefabrication process for traditional windows, doors and panels for educational buildings:

Using the prefabrication concept, windows, doors and panels are factory produced and ready for instalment upon arrival on the site. Details have been improved regarding wind and rain protection and, as only profiles and assembly procedures are fixed, the designer still has the flexibility to modify the component sizes to suit his needs.



Punagongn Primary School:

Financed under an IDA credit and Swiss grant funds the construction of Punagongn Primary School was part of the first phase of the Primary Education Project. Standard designs for temperate and tropical types were developed and included a substantial amount of innovation, both in terms of design and construction techniques. The school capacity was designed for 600 students in 16 classrooms. Hostels for 60 girls and 110 boys allow children from remote areas to attend school as well.


National Institute of Education in Samchi:

The Teacher Training Institute at Samchi was established in 1968 to meet the growing demand for primary teachers. In 1981 the institute was upgraded and renamed as National Institute of Education to train secondary schoolteachers. Under funds provided by the Government of Norway and AGFUND, UNESCO has assisted the Royal Government of Bhutan since 1983 in the construction of the main building, auditorium, library, service building and hostel and in the improvement of the infrastructure.


Educational Facilities Maintenance Manual:

Vol. I Management of Maintenance
Vol. II Carrying out Maintenance

This two-volume maintenance manual was prepared by UNESCO's consultant architect Ms F. Duggan in collaboration with the Department of Education of the Royal Government of Bhutan, to assist headmasters and staff, but also students, to maintain the educational facilities in Bhutan. In a country where the demand for new facilities cannot be met quickly enough, existing school facilities have to be looked after even more carefully. The authors of this manual wish to raise the awareness of the need for maintenance both for those who manage educational facilities and for the users. The manuals are therefore illustrated with many drawings for easy understanding, along with a very clear and detailed text.




Secondary school in Uthai Thani province:

Compulsory secondary education is going to be introduced in some of the Asian and Pacific countries. With seed money provided by AGFUND Thailand developed a small pilot secondary school in Uthai Thani province in 1988 as a participant in UNESCO's inter-country project, known as the Development of Educational Facilities for Asia and the Pacific. The Crown Prince of Thailand on the occasion of his 36th birthday donated funds to build another six secondary schools during the fiscal year of 1989 and in 1991 the ministry is going to build another 30 schools in remote provinces.



Technical assistance in designing furniture is often requested by Member States in Asia and the Pacific. Although furniture is one of the most expensive and important components of education, it is a very often neglected and inadequately informed field. With the help of UNESCO, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Maldives have developed school furniture of their own, solving their particular problems such as those caused by flooding, remote mountainous location or salinity near the sea.

Bangladesh, school furniture in flooded area.

Maldives, secondary school furniture

Bhutan, school furniture for new curriculum.

Other developments in the Asian region: Nepal, school furniture for the Sawal Bahal Sweeper Community School, Kathmandu. Design: Niels Axel; architect: Danish Volunteer Service.



University of Qatar:

The University of Qatar comprises six faculties, namely, administrative sciences and economics, engineering, humanities, Islamic studies and science. Since the early seventies UNESCO has assisted the university in upgrading its services and facilities. In 1984/1985 the university moved to a new campus. In the present phase of UNESCO's assistance, a laboratory equipment specialist and an architect specialist in interior design of educational facilities were recruited. The drawing shows the proposed layout of the previous men's library building to be converted into staff offices.


Feasibility study on the development of low-cost educational buildings and facilities in six Arab countries, financed by AFESD and AGFUND:

The main objective was to develop techniques for the construction of lowcost educational buildings and facilities in the six least-developed Arab countries by making greater use of local labour and of locally available building material and by adopting appropriate technologies in line with the specific needs and possibilities of the country.



Prototype primary schools realized with UNESCO assistance in Mauritania:

The UNESCO architects in Dakar, with the Mauritanian school building unit, developed two prototypes of primary classrooms. Firstly two classrooms were constructed at Nouakchott to test the possibilities of using gypsum (locally extracted and processed) as building material. Secondly a set of six classrooms was built at Diaguili, a large river front village. The second prototype, inspired by the building system for the Bakel project, was developed to test the possibility of co-financing between a local community and a central source.


Prototype primary school realized with UNESCO assistance in Sudan:

Construction of a primary school in El Haj Yousif (Khartoum Suburb) and technical supervision in close association with the National Building and Road Research Institute (NBRR).




State-of-the-art educational buildings and furniture in the U.S.A:

A slide/tape audiovisual was prepared by Burr Lawrence Rising & Bates Architects, member of the Committee on Architecture for Education, the American Institute of Architects and the American Association of School Administrators, under a contract with the Educational Architecture Unit of UNESCO.

The audiovisual presents current practices and the trends in educational buildings design in the United States. Specific projects, kindergarten through 12th grade, college and university work, along with examples of special design features, are identified and the name of the school, client, location, and architect, along with brief comments of each facility, are given.


For more information, please contact:

Burr Lawrance Rising &
Bates Architects P.S.
Architecture, Planning & Interiors
1111 Fawselt, Suite 201
Tacoma, Washigton 98402-2012






Jerry Lawrence, AIA
Committee on Architecture for Education
American Institute of Architects

November, 1990

Undertaken by Contract with Educational Architectural Unit UNESCO, Paris


Publications and Events


Mexico: Exhibition of Architecture, 1-12 July 1991

"The Education of Man through his Architecture" was the second architectural exhibition presented by UNESCO's Educational Sector in Paris. The complete exhibit entitled "Arquitectura Mexico" was prepared by the Mexican Institute of Architects, the Mexican Ministry of Urban Development and Ecology, and the Faculty of Architecture of the UNAM, Mexico's Autonomous National University. Originally, the exhibition consisted of 200 posters out of which 60 were selected for the display at UNESCO Headquarters to illustrate how architecture interrelates educationally with society in the past and present, in the present, in terms of spatial, volumetric and functional aspects of today's architecture and, in the past, through understanding of the past, which again contributes to the new contemporary architectural forms, expression of an enriched awareness.


Cyclone resistant school buildings for Bangladesh:

UNESCO Bangkok and the Bangladesh Ministry of Education have long worked together on the problem of mitigating the effects of natural disasters on education. This document summarizes the results of four in-country training courses on how to design schools to resist the strong winds that are so prevalent in the country.

The training was conducted by Kevin J. Macks, architect from Australia, who is a specialist in this field, under UNESCO's Educational Buildings Programme, with emphasis on making schools safe from damage by natural disasters.


We welcome relevant information from readers about recent and forthcoming publications as well as news and events which will go into this news and events section.

Industrial Architecture Competition 1991:

The BMW Foundat with the French Ministry of Equipment, Housing, Transport and Spaces and UNESCO with FIDEPS (International Association for the Promotion of Physical and Cultural Activities, ASC), organized an architecture competition for students of French architecture schools. The students were asked to present a concept for a low cost multipurpose sport facility for Third World countries. The first prize went to a design which proposed to solve the large span with a cable structure with roofing made of textile, for a Sahelian-zone sports hall, by Frric Agnesa, Humbert David and Pierre Rotival from the Ecole d'architecture de Lyon. The jury gave the second prize to a mud-brick sports complex for Niamey, Niger, submitted by students of the Ecole d'architecture de Versailles and the third prize to the students of the Ecole d'architecture de Paris-Belleville.

Prof. Anton Schweighofer, Architect, Vienna, Austria: Exhibition, 3-12 April, l991

The first architecture exhibition presented by UNESC'O's Education Sector in Paris showed the work of Prof. Anton Schweighofer, who has been Professor of Building and Design at the Technical University Vienna since 1977. His work includes a variety of different types of buildings, many of them directly related to education: kindergartens, schools, universities, institutions for the handicapped, orphanage, houses for nurses, etc. His Children's Villages in India and the "Children's City" in Vienna are of particular relevance. The Exhibition was o rganized by the Educational Architecture Unit in collaboration with the Permanent Delegation of Austria to UNESCO.

UIA Meeting, Stockholm: 27-31 August 1991:

The International Union of Architects, Group "Educational and Cultural Spaces", met in Stockholm to discuss "Interior Design in School and Cultural Buildings under the following aspects:

- The overall impression of interior design and its influence on education;

- School fumiture, such as desks, chairs, cupboards, blackboards and equipment, especially regarding function, ergonomics, aesthetics, material, surface layer, coloring;

- Durability and life cycle of interior fittings related to the demand for renewal, economy and maintenance;

- Module co-ordination standardization and flexibility of interior fittings;

- Interior design for refurbishment of school buildings.

Back Cover

For further inquiries please contact:

Mr R. ALMEIDA, Chief
Educational Architecture Unit (EAR)
7 Place de Fontenoy
75700 PARIS

Cable: UNESCO Paris
Telex: 204461 Paris
270602 Paris
Post Box: B.P. 3.07 Paris

Mr J. DE BOSCH KEMPER, Head of Unit
Educational Policy, Innovations and Facilities (EPI)
UNESCO Regional Office, for Education in Africa
12, Avenue Roume

Tel: 22.50.82
Cable: UNESCO-Dakar
Telex: 2175 UNESCO SG
Telefax: 23-83-93
Post Box: B.P. 3311 Dakar

Oficina Regional de Educacie la UNESCO
para Amca Latina y el Caribe
(Plaza Pedro de Valdivia)
Casilla 3187

Tel: 204.90.32
Telex; 340258 UNESCO CK
Telefax: 49.18.75
Post Box: P.O. BOX 3187

Educational Facilities Development
Services (EFD)
UNESCO Principal Regional Office
of Asia and the Pacific
920, Sukhumvit Road

Tel: 391.05.77
Cable: UNESCO Bangkok
Telex: 20591 ROEAP TH
Telefax: 391.08.66
Post Box: P.O. Box 1425
General Post Office
Bangkok 10500

Educational Facilities Unit (EFU)
UNESCO Regional Office for Education
in the Arab States
Wadi Saqra

Tel: 606.659
Telex: 24304 UNESCO JO
Telefax: 682.183
962 (Jordan)
6 (Amman)
Post Box: P.O Box 2270