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Green School

Disaster Management Plan - August 15 2009

Disaster Management Plan

Do the schools have any?
We seem to be taking the devastating and life threatening natural disasters in our stride. Yet, every time they strike--more frequently now than ever before – we are jolted out of our senses. The July issue of GT highlighted the need for the younger generation to take onus of the situation. They are facing disasters of various types and proportions more and more frequently. Do they know how to deal with them? Is the school curriculum responding to this need adequately? GT spoke to Prof Jaishree Sharma, senior executive of NCERT (National Council of Education Research and Training), which sets school curriculum. We also compiled responses from a group of teachers. Their comments reflect the mood of the students. Their responses evaluate the different facets of natural disaster management in the school syllabus. They also told us what they believe need to be done NOW.

What Teacjers Think?

  • The component of natural disaster management has been introduced through the textbooks of geography and sociology to begin with, should this be a part of all disciplines taught in school?
    Three out of the four teachers agree that this learning should be made an integral part of all the subjects.
  • Ms Amita Saxena (Nirmal Bhartiya School, Dwarka): A strong multidisciplinary knowledge base and skills essential for intervention in disasters and their prevention will develop expertise in students to handle such situations effectively.
  • Ms Nishtha (Tagore International): We need not include disaster management in all the subjects. It’s better to give students the space to learn one thing at a time. The most important thing for them is to act on what they learn.
  • Are the schools in any way equipping students with the special skills and knowledge required to tackle such situations?
    None of the schools have any kind of focus on building these skills and knowledge.
  • Ms Malini Sridhar (Apeejay, Pitampura): Only the basic dos and don’ts are being taught. Teaching these skills through interesting audio-visuals would be more helpful.
  • Ms Amita Saxena (Nirmal Bhartiya School,Dwarka): There is a profound gap between the knowledge students learn in schools and the skills they need to face a disaster. In many schools the staff is trained for disaster management, but their knowledge and skills should be shared with the students as well.
  • Does the curriculum focus on technical and social issues, which emerge out of these natural disasters?
    One teacher feels that these issues are being addressed to some extent.
  • Ms Nishtha (Tagore International): The school curriculum is time bound and students don’t take these issues seriously. Even when they are made to do it, they only do it for marks.
  • Ms Amita Saxena (Nirmal Bhartiya School,Dwarka): The curriculum on disaster management was too detailed and a load for the already heavy curriculum. The content of this subject should enable the students to understand disaster management (including forecast and mitigation) from the perspective of science and technology.
  • What would be the right way to prepare the students to handle these disasters, intellectually as well as practically?
    The responses reflected a wide range of opinions and and innovative ideas to equip students to tackle catastrophes of major proportions.
  • Ms Amita Saxena (Nirmal Bhartiya School,Dwarka): Trained professionals equipped to deal with a variety of hazards should visit school communities and plan and implement a holistic disaster management programme.
  • Ms Neena Singh (Sister Nivedita Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya): Teachers should be trained in basic First Aid methods and by experts in theory and practice on handling these disasters and thus could also train students in the same. Also, Officials from Fire Department, Police, Border Security Force (BSF), and Rapid Action Force (RAF) could address the student, give demos and share their experiences.
  • Ms Malini Sridhar (Apeejay, Pitampura): While the young should only focus on protecting themselves and their families, those above 20 years of age should be trained like the para-military forces to be able to help at the community level. Educational institutions in partnership with the NGO’s can initiate youth empowerment programmes.

  • Why did the NCERT feel the need to incorporate natural disaster management in the school curriculum?
  • Prof Jaishree Sharma: Natural disaster management was always a part of the NCERT curriculum. Not as a separate topic but with slight undertones taught through activities, case studies, anecdotes, newspaper clippings and examples. However, this is only done for the senior classes, because NCERT does not want the younger students to become a part of these processes, lest they put their life in danger. The younger student are simply taught the dos and dont’s.
  • The component of natural disaster management has been introduced through the textbooks of geography and sociology, should this be a part of all disciplines taught at school?
  • Prof Jaishree Sharma: It’s a part of all the science subjects, geography, sociology and psychology. But this cannot be done at the cost of ‘diluting’ the subject. Secondly, our textbooks can only have limited content; the priority is to give the students as much information on the main subject as possible.
  • Are the schools in any way equipping the students with the special skills and knowledge required to tackle the situations, which arise out of natural disasters?
  • Prof Jaishree Sharma: The senior classes are given guidance about the government agencies. which they can contact, for information and related needs, while the junior classes stick to the basic dos and don’ts.
  • What would be the right way to prepare the students to handle these disasters, intellectually as well as practically?
  • Prof Jaishree Sharma: Social awareness and active citizenship can be facilitated through bodies like CSE (Centre for Science and Environment) and CEE (Centre for Environment Education). Short films/clips on issues of disaster management could be played during free periods, which could prove to be a great learning tool.

GT would love to know the students’ side of the story. They should be the chief speakers in this debate, and the most important player in the education system. What do you have to say about this? Are you concerned about yours and your family’ssafety and would you like to know more? Or do you already know enough?
You can mail your responses at:
Centre for Science and Environment
41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area
New Delhi – 110062

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Disaster Management Plan