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close this bookPrimary School Physical Environment and Health - WHO Global School Health Initiative (SIDA - WHO, 1997, 96 p.)
close this folderAppendix A. Case studies
View the documentA1. What makes a school different? Madras, India
View the documentA2. A school for a growing population: Bogotá, Colombia
View the documentA3. Schools made by people: Kenya
View the documentA4. A school in a warm, humid climate: Viet Nam
View the documentA5. Schools in a hot, dry climate: Rajasthan, India
View the documentA6. A school in a cold climate: Hunza, Pakistan
View the documentA7. Schools at a high altitude: the Altiplano, Bolivia

A4. A school in a warm, humid climate: Viet Nam

Ninh Hai is an agricultural commune in Ninh Binh Province, about 100 km south of Hanoi in Viet Nam. The area has a typical monsoon climate with a warm and humid summer, with temperatures above 30 °C, and a rather cold and rainy winter. The schools are closed when winter temperatures drop below 8 °C.

Ninh Hai Commune has a population of 5000. The primary school has 700 pupils drawn from a distance of up to 3 km and is run in two shifts. The school compound, covering 2000 m2, is surrounded by a river, ponds, rice paddies and steep hills.


A bird’s-eye view of the Ninh Hai School, in Ninh Binh Province, Viet Nam, showing several periods of construction. On the left and front is the river. The buildings behind the 2-storey classroom block are staff quarters. The first building on the right is a pre-primary school. The next building is the school canteen and shop.

Established in 1963, the school has 13 classrooms and 25 teachers for the two shifts (some schools in Viet Nam, particularly in mountainous areas, have three shifts). The classrooms have adequate furniture and light conditions are good. Window openings are large to provide for good cross-ventilation during the warm, humid period. The oldest part of the school has window openings from the floor up, with wooden shutters. This allows for effective cooling at the level where pupils are sitting.


The old building of the Ninh Hai Primary School in Ninh Binh Province in Viet Nam, has tall “French windows”, providing good cross-ventilation and light.

The school has no functioning water supply, however. A rainwater tank was built in 1994 (a UNICEF-funded project) but does not work. Water for washing is taken from the heavily polluted river. The children bring drinking-water from home.

A small toilet for students is located by the river. It is too small for the number of students attending the school and quite smelly. There is a definite risk that river water could be polluted by leakage from the toilet pit. Somewhat better toilets are available for the staff, in the staff quarters.

The major health problems among pupils are: trachoma (40% of students); goitre (23%); and malnutrition (3%). An annual health check of the students is carried out by staff from the commune’s health centre.

This example shows that even in a community where major efforts have been made to provide a good physical environment for the school, no successful solutions have been found for water supply and sanitation problems.