There tends to be a common understanding of why disaster risk reduction and prevention should be part of an education system’s planning and management, should be taught and learned, and should be an essential component of the development and maintenance of the physical infrastructure. The importance and value of integrating DRR planning and learning within a given education system is recognised by education, development and humanitarian professionals, and is addressed in such documents as the Hyogo Framework for Action. We can all recognise the role of education for promoting DRR, and the importance of DRR for safeguarding our schools, our teachers, our learners, our children. What is not always so clear is when, where and how DRR planning and learning should be introduced into an education system. How can we ensure that all the necessary components for DRR are integrated and that they actually create a resilient education system, promote a culture of safety, and prevent injury and the loss of life? Two examples of UNESCO projects in post-disaster environments highlight the opportunity for the promotion of DRR that a post-disaster response presents. These interventions also highlight the need to link post-disaster responses to preparedness and prevention activities, and long term development. These projects also illustrate the importance of developing interventions that intimately link upstream, “structural” developments at the level of policies and education management, with the downstream, “content” interventions that result in necessary action and can actually change peoples behaviour. By “structural” developments I mean the design and management of an education system, while “content” refers to the knowledge imparted by that education system.
Let us first briefly consider why DRR should be integrated into an education system. The objectives of a comprehensive programme for disaster risk reduction and prevention within an education system are to: Save lives and prevent injuries should a hazardous event occur Prevent interruptions to the provision of education, or ensure its swift resumption in the event of an interruption Develop a resilient populace that is able to reduce the economic, social and cultural impacts should a hazardous event occur In brief, the goals are to create a resilient education system, and to teach personal and community resilience through that education system. I might go so far as to say that any unintended interruption of the provision of education or the loss of life during schooling can be considered a disaster. I shall, however, leave that point for possible discussion later.
Programmes for disaster risk reduction and prevention within an education system can be classified according to a three-fold typology: 1) The use of education to impart awareness and knowledge of risks and what can be done before, during and after a potential hazard. The Hyogo Framework for Action refers to this as the “ Use of knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels. ” This involves activities such as the integration of DRR themes within the curricula of general and professional education programmes; the integration of DRR issues within textbooks; integration of DRR topics within teacher training curricula; and pre-service or in-service training for teachers on the pedagogy of teaching DRR. DRR must be integrated into both what is taught, and the training of teachers in how to teach that. 2) Education sector planning and management for both preparedness and response to a hazard or disaster. This includes the establishment of education sector policies for DRR, management structures within the Ministry of Education and its various departments, as well as standard operating procedures for education authorities. In addition to these structural developments of the education system, corresponding capacity development of education officials, from ministers and policy makers to education managers, school principals and teachers is essential to ensure that “structural” developments within the education system translate into actions. 3) Finally, safer school construction activities are for the purpose of ensuring that students and education personnel are no longer at risk due to poor design, construction or maintenance of education facilities. This includes a number of issues such as legislation, construction guidelines, building certification, routine inspections, and legal accountability. I personally believe that all three components are necessary for a comprehensive programme for DRR within any education system.
What is required is the system-wide integration of DRR including, but not limited to: policy developments, guidelines and SOPs, management structures and accountability, preparedness planning and response management, guidelines and legislation regarding building codes and certification of education facilities, curriculum developments, teacher training, and so forth. This brings me back to my original question: how can we ensure the successful integration of all these components for DRR so as to create a resilient education system and through that education system promote a culture of safety and resilience? There are major obstacles to integrating disaster risk reduction and prevention programmes within the education system. These include: Lack of political commitment and financial investment Insufficient community involvement and poor coordination of key stakeholders at all levels Failure to put upstream policies into practice through downstream activities These are challenges for national stakeholders as well as international agencies. UNESCO generally works upstream at the level of education planning and management. To be perfectly honest, we have continually struggled to link our highly technical product with the actual functioning of education systems, and to relate these technical products with the content and delivery of learning. How can we ensure that an education system has the ability to adopt and sustain DRR interventions? How can we get Ministries of Education to recognise the need for innovation, and the incorporation of DRR strategies within the education system? What must be done to encourage Ministries of Education to take the initiative to promote capacity development for DRR planning and management, integrating DRR within the various curricula of general and professional education, and the promoting of safe school construction? The post-disaster situation can present a unique opportunity around which there is almost unanimous local support at all levels for building back better through the introduction and implementation of various disaster risk reduction and prevention strategies. The influx of international support from donors and technical organisations following a natural disaster is often a watershed event for the development of the education system. The efforts of national stakeholders backed by international support should be focused upon improving the education system in order to ensure that such a disaster does not recur. The effects of a disaster are such that former political or financial resistance, as well as insufficient community involvement for implementing education system reform for disaster risk reduction and prevention can cease to be obstructing issues. Where there is commitment to disaster prevention through reform and development of the education system, it must be capitalised upon by promoting greater coordination between stakeholders at all levels, and by ensuring that policies and activities are mutually informing and supportive so as to achieve the greatest impact and promote a culture of safety and resilience . It is essential to consider the ability of the education system to absorb and convey new information and initiatives regarding DRR . The integration of DRR as policy and planning alone is insufficient to create a resilient education system and develop a culture of safety through learning. What is most often needed is capacity development of education personnel to ensure that DRR initiative are translated into actions. Capacity development is to prepare people, institutions and systems to manage change. Education authorities play the key role of managing this change and therefore must be involved in the prioritisation, planning and monitoring of post-disaster reconstruction and the integration of DRR within the education system. With that said, let us now consider two UNESCO projects for the promotion of DRR in education in post-disaster situations.
On 8 October 2005, a powerful earthquake struck northern Pakistan, killing more than 73,000 people. Due to the timing of the earthquake and the low quality of school construction, more than 18,000 students were killed and 50,000 seriously injured or disabled, many inside school buildings. More than 300,000 students were affected. Some 900 teachers were killed and 10,000 school buildings destroyed. The very visible impact on the education system may have contributed to the high priority given to the education response. The appalling image of school buildings collapsing on children all too vividly illustrated the many needs of the education system. This moment in Pakistan proved to be a catalytic event for the integration of DRR within the education system.
UNESCO together with other partners initiated and developed a government-led capacity building programme and commitment to build back better. The emphasis on capacity development highlights the importance of upstream, policy-level interventions for integrating disaster risk reduction and prevention within the education system. Education was given high priority in the immediate response, and the sector was relatively well-coordinated and funded, both in the emergency and early recovery phases. A government decision gave equal priority to hard components, such as reconstruction and supplies, and soft components, such as training in early recovery efforts and capacity development . The ground for investment in capacity development in Pakistan , particularly of education managers, was laid by the joint commitment to build back better. The notion of building back better encompasses not just constructing earthquake-resistant schools, but committing to bring all children back into schools, including those not in school before the disaster; to increase the number of girls in schools; to improve the quality of the education provided; to ensure the introduction of appropriate disaster risk reduction and prevention elements; to augment the number and qualifications of teachers; and to make sure that all of these happen in a coordinated, well-planned manner within a budget that can be sustained for years to come. Such a commitment requires education authorities capable of both planning and managing recovery and reconstruction, and dealing with rapid change and long-term system improvements .
Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar on 2-3 May 2008 killing some 140,000 people, affecting a further 2.4 million, and causing extensive damage and destruction of property and infrastructure The cyclone destroyed or damaged some 4,000 schools and left 360,000 children in the affected areas without a safe place to learn .
UNESCO and Plan International jointly initiated the Myanmar Education Recovery Programme (MERP) in close collaboration with the Myanmar Ministry of Education. MERP seeks to maximise the capacity for emergency response and preparedness of the education system in Myanmar to ensure that the education responses to the disaster includes activities and mechanisms that can help reduce the risk, and mitigate or prevent the impacts of future hazards. While formulated as a post-disaster response, MERP is a technical assistance programme with the objectives of enhancing the resilience and preparedness of the education system; to ensure that disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness are integral parts of the planning and management of the education system; and to ensure the promotion of a culture of safety and resilience through a community-based, participatory and multi-sector approach that extends to local communities. MERP aims to enhance the resilience of the education system in Myanmar by addressing both disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness as integral parts of the education system, particularly during emergency recovery, to ensure a safer future.
MERP aimed to ensure the local implementation of national education policies, the planning, implementation and coordination of the emergency education response, and the embedding of disaster risk reduction and prevention within the education system at the township and community levels. This was to be achieved through capacity building of key educational duty-bearers (township educational officers and school principals) at the division and community levels . The Government of Myanmar together with national and international partners strove to quickly reopen schools and resume schooling in order to ensure a sense of normalcy for children and youth. In order to achieve the speedy resumption of quality schooling, it was essential to build the capacity of district education officials and school principals within the disaster-affected areas so that they could effectively implement and monitor the response, rehabilitation and recovery programme. Teachers needed to be provided with appropriate support and training for the application of relevant post-disaster teaching methods and care for learners, the integration of newly developed disaster risk reduction and prevention materials within the curriculum, and to lead the immediate reactivation of schooling while securing community commitment towards this end. As part of MERP school principals and teachers were trained in disaster risk reduction programmes in eight priority cyclone-affected townships. The principals and teachers trained act as focal persons for the further dissemination of disaster awareness, and to conduct activities for the planning and management of disaster preparedness, prevention and response in their respective schools and communities.
In conclusion, it is important for us to recognise that DRR initiatives must have a holistic orientation towards the education system. Interventions must intimately link upstream, “structural” developments at the level of policies and education management, with the downstream, “content” interventions that result in necessary action and can actually change peoples behaviour. Capacity development is an essential component to ensure that policy and management developments translate into necessary actions. The occasion of a disaster, despite the unfortunate calamity, presents a unique opportunity for promoting disaster risk reduction and prevention through activities and developments within the education system. Ultimately, are goal is to develop resilient education systems, and to ensure that personal and community resilience is taught through that education system.
Points of Entry for Disaster Risk Reduction and Prevention within the Education Sector
Points of Entry for Disaster Risk Reduction and Prevention within the Education Sector Matthew Stephensen Section for Education in Post-Conflict and Post-Disaster Situations
Goals of a comprehensive programme for disaster risk reduction and prevention (DRR) within the education system: <ul><li>Save lives and prevent injuries </li></ul><ul><li>Prevent the interruption of the provision of education or ensure its swift resumption </li></ul><ul><li>Develop a resilient populace that is able to reduce the economic, social and cultural impacts </li></ul>
Types of DRR Education Programmes: <ul><li>Integrate DRR awareness and knowledge into the provision of education </li></ul><ul><li>DRR planning and management for education sector preparedness and response </li></ul><ul><li>Safer school construction to prevent or mitigate the risk of hazards </li></ul>
A formula for change A comprehensive education sector programme in DRR Guidelines and legislation regarding building codes Certification of education facilities Policy Developments Curriculum developments Teacher training Lack of political will lack of funding Lack of coordination Guidelines and SOPs Management structures and accountability Planning for preparedness and response managements Capacity development Education manager training Textbook revisions
Pakistan Earthquake 8 October 2005 <ul><li>18,000 + students killed </li></ul><ul><li>50,000 students seriously injured or disabled </li></ul><ul><li>More than 300,000 students were affected by the earthquake </li></ul><ul><li>~ 900 teachers killed </li></ul><ul><li>10,000 school buildings destroyed </li></ul>Pakistan Pakistan Earthquake Disaster Situation Overview Map. Source: MapAction, accessed from ReliefWeb, 27 May 2010. Not for reproduction.
UNESCO’s Activities in Pakistan <ul><li>Capacity development of administrators for planning and managing disaster risk reduction and prevention initiatives in the education system </li></ul><ul><li>Training teachers for disaster preparedness and response </li></ul><ul><li>Integrate disaster risk reduction and prevention within curricula of professional education and training </li></ul><ul><li>Incorporating disaster risk reduction within technical and vocational education and training </li></ul>
Myanmar Cyclone Nargis 2-3 May 2008 <ul><li>~ 4000 schools damaged/destroyed </li></ul><ul><li>Left 360,000 students without a safe place to learn </li></ul><ul><li>Displaced teachers, school principals and education managers </li></ul>Myanmar: Regional Overview – Tropical Cyclone Nargis. Source: MapAction/OCHA, assessed from ReliefWeb on 27 May 2010. Not for reproduction.
UNESCO’s Activities in Myanmar Myanmar Education Recovery Programme (MERP) <ul><li>Objectives of the technical assistance programme: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enhance the resilience and preparedness of the education system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensure that disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness are integral parts of the planning and management of the education system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensure the promotion of a culture of safety through a community-based, participatory and multi-sector approach that is process-oriented and extended to local communities </li></ul></ul>
Myanmar Education Recovery Programme (MERP) <ul><li>Activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Capacity building of education administration and management for disaster planning and response </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Capacity building of community-based education for emergencies and disaster risk reduction strategies </li></ul></ul>
Conclusion <ul><li>U pstream, structural developments must be linked to downstream, “content-focused activities . </li></ul><ul><li>Need for capacity development. </li></ul><ul><li>The occasion of a disaster presents a unique opportunity for promoting DRR within the education system. </li></ul>