Disaster preparedness vital for schools

Disaster preparedness, prevention and safety are important to be taught in schools that are prone to natural hazards like earthquake, tsunami and landslide.

Many schools in the New Guinea Islands Region particularly in East New Britain, New Ireland and West New Britain are at risk of earthquakes and tsunamis.

Schools in the Highlands Region are at risk of landslides therefore it is vital that children are prepared and know what to do when faced with a natural disaster.

Shichigo Elementary School in Sendai City, Japan is undergoing a pilot curriculum for disaster preparedness, prevention and safety.

The school was affected by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2011 that caused tsunami waves that reached up to 128 feet high that reached Miyako city and traveled inland as far as 10 km in Sendai.

The tsunami waves flooded an estimated area of approximately 217 square miles with over 15 800 reported deaths.

Shichigo vice Principal Masaki Nakatsuji said schools in disaster prone areas must adopt a curriculum to teach their students about how to be prepared for natural hazards and how to protect themselves.

Included in the curriculum, students learn about how to protect themselves at a time of earthquake when it occurs especially when they are walking to and from school.

Shichigo Elementary was nominated by the Japan Ministry of Education to be a pilot of this new curriculum focusing on safety and disaster prevention after the 2011 earthquake.

The curriculum was developed by the teachers of the school based on the experience during the 2011 earthquake and the school will report the outcome of the curriculum to other schools next month.

Nakatsuji said, “We aim to create this curriculum based on our experience so that we can pass down the experience to the future generation.

“We are to develop this standardized curriculum so that it could be used by schools around the country and possibly it can be adopted in other countries,” he said.

The students are assessed on their attitude and how proactive they are during the lessons.  

Nakatsuji added that the goal for the subject is to foster children’s dream and hopes.

He said they’re trying to encourage children to become positive about their future by teaching them how to gain this sense of security even at the time of disaster.

Picture caption: Students at Shichigo Elementary School demonstrating the action to take during an earthquake

Quintina Naime