Poor school building conditions linked to student absenteeism

Jan 18, 2019 by

Chairs and desks in a classroom

Various studies have been carried out on investigating the general connection between the condition of school facilities and student achievement, behaviour and attendance, and the vast majority of the results clearly show how these factors are linked together. In the 21st century there are still a wide number of buildings used for education purposes that fail to meet quality standards, and negatively impact the academic journey of pupils. Problems of this sort have been spotted in various regions across the globe, not only in third-world countries, as one might expect. But what exactly are the issues that are most frequently encountered? The substandard buildings targeted here, which are functioning as academic facilities, face some of the following concerns: 

Mould issues

Mould growth is one of the most frequently met issues in school facilities. Damp environments foster the appearance of fungus and bacteria, and due to various incidents that increase moisture, some classrooms or school areas now face mould issues. From respiratory difficulties and allergies to skin rashes and fatigue, the health repercussion that can be triggered by increased exposure to mould are plenty, and yet, some schools fail to make an improvement in this department. The indoor quality of these facilities connected to mould growth has disrupted the activities carried out there, and a solution to this problem would be an appropriate reaction from school officials. Nowadays, mould testing and removal are easily accessible, considering there are numerous companies available that can stay on top of such a project in an optimal period of time. Although the actual threat of mould is still being discussed, officials are recommended to resort to outside professional for a complete remediation. Those in charge should also take the right means of precaution to prevent a reoccurrence, by keeping humidity levels under control. Outbreaks are often caused by cleaning practices that involve too much water, so a change in this department might be all it takes for future prevention. With air quality in check, an increase in student attendance might actually be noticed.

Imbalanced indoor temperatures

How could a student properly focus on the activities carried out in school, when a constant discomfort is experienced in terms of temperature? From classrooms that are too cold during harsh days of winter, or excessively humid in hot environments, pupils are finding it hard to perfect their academic involvement when they are constantly dealing with imbalanced indoor temperatures. The cause that triggers this particular issue isn’t, as one might tend to believe, connected to lack of heating or cooling systems, but to improper insulation. Heating and cooling devices used in school environments cannot keep up with capacity demands, and an improvement in building insulation could rapidly solve worries in this department. The right insulation material will facilitate the easy maintenance of comfortable temperatures on school grounds, without the need of making any additions to the heating/cooling devices installed. School facilities should start by pursuing an insulation removal, followed by a replacement with a more qualitative material. Insulating a building by the book will result in a major improvement in indoor comfort throughout the entire school year, regardless of weather. The environment of a classroom should be welcoming, allowing the student to concentrate on what is being taught, and comfortable temperature plays an important role here. Moreover, schools could also keep their heating and cooling budget in check, by upgrading to better insulation.

Asbestos-ridden constructions

The health repercussions of being exposed to asbestos are not to be neglected, and despite the dangers involved, school buildings constructed during periods in which this material was used for insulation purposes are still open, exposing students and teachers to health hazards. Teachers are finding it difficult to teach in these environments, while students deal with learning issues at the same time – this has led to an increase in student absenteeism and underperformance and has also influenced how many teachers give up on their job. This major building defect is one of the most serious ones, health-wise, and various school officials have started to look for solutions on the matter. The fear of being exposed to this hazardous material has infected attendance in various cases, so a proper inspection and asbestos removal is critical in such a scenario.  

Lack of space

An overcrowded classroom can affect behavior and achievement among students, and it may also lead to increased drop-outs. However, this is one of the issues that many facilities are being confronted with, on an international level. Lack of space prevents the smooth-going of the overall academic activities carried-out in these buildings. Even a productivity decrease among staff is bound to be experienced at some point, if overcrowding remains an issue throughout the entire school year. New regulations and solutions are still being awaited on the matter.

Lack of school equipment and supplies

School conditions imply more than just cosmetic characteristics, air quality, cleanliness, space and temperature, but access to proper equipment and supplies that have a significant role in a pupil’s academic journey. From advanced computers to supplies for practical courses, students should have at their disposal all the resources necessary to support the things they are being thought. Without access to equipment and supplies, teachers aren’t able to do their job properly, and pupils don’t benefit from the academic development expected. A large number of facilities still need basic additions, including refurbishments.

While the quality of the education provided in school is the main factor that influences attendance and student interest and development, one cannot deny the role of proper building design and conditions in regards to general performance. In many regions around the world, a problem with absenteeism has been spotted, being directly associated with how the buildings look like and the general comfort they provide. While viable solutions are still being sought after, problems such as imbalanced indoor

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