To be an inspector

Communities are intimately involved in school construction here. They are, more than any other group, the ones that watch each brick laid and each bar bent. They are even expected to form construction inspection committees and manage the construction project themselves.

The thing is, they aren’t builders.

They know about as much about earthquake safe construction as parents in in the United States. Sure, some have likely built a rickety shed or did some repair work on their house. But they are not professional builders.

They have been telling us that they are trying to inspect school projects, to ensure that the materials are of high quality and the construction up to snuff. But, it’s hard. They watch carefully, but few know what to check. When they question a mason’s work, the retort is often along the lines of, “so you think you’re a mason now, huh?”

They need help, but can’t afford to become experts in construction.

Perhaps we can help guide the process a bit more. With a checklist of what makes schools safe, the parents and teachers would better be able to follow the process. They’d also learn the techniques that would help make their houses safer.

We need to find the right format and partners, but maybe this too is a way we can gently nudge a culture in the way it wants to go — towards safer schools, houses and communities.

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