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Disaster risk reduction in school curriculum to be piloted in Asia Pacific

In the last 30 years disasters have been happening more frequently, and with greater impact, than ever before. Their impact is the greatest in low income countries, particularly Asia and the Pacific.

©CRIC 2009

These countries are not immune to natural hazards and the impact on communities is a direct result of vulnerability related to a wide range of factors, including complex development challenges, along with lack of preparedness, higher rates of urbanization, poverty, and disability.

Disasters are creating humanitarian and development challenges that can be addressed through Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in education.

To promote a learning culture of safety and resilience, UNESCO in collaboration with UNICEF has developed a Technical guidance for integrating disaster risk reduction in the school curriculum. This guidance tool will be pilot tested in different countries around the world including Lao PDR, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Nepal from the Asia-Pacific region. These four countries showed their interests in the curriculum, following their participation in ‘the Education in Emergencies for Sustainable Development Phase I’ project, a UNESCO Bangkok initiative that is supported by Japanese Funds-in-Trust.

Danilo Padilla, Education and Sustainable Development Programme Coordinator of UNESCO Bangkok, said: “It is recognized that impacts of disasters can be substantially reduced if we are well prepared, ready to act and are equipped with the knowledge and capacities for effective disaster management.

“…impacts of disasters can be substantially reduced if we are well prepared, ready to act and are equipped with the knowledge and capacities for effective disaster management.”

“The objective of including disaster risk reduction components in curriculum, teacher education, community learning, school management, and school infrastructure is to increase the level of preparedness and protection of education systems and the resilience and preparedness level in disaster prone-communities. This technical guidance – a collaborative work between UNESCO and UNICEF – is one of our contributions towards that goal,” he said.

The document offers technical guidance on the integration of disaster risk reduction (DRR) in the school curriculum and contains conceptual frameworks as well as ready-to-use planning, development, discussion, monitoring and evaluation tools. It is designed primarily for use by policy makers and curriculum developers in central and sub-national administrations, NGOs and UN agencies but has also much to offer of direct relevance to school principals, teachers, teacher trainers, local education officials as well as local community members committed to promoting DRR learning.

Participating in the pilot are experienced curriculum developers, education planners and teacher educators who are nominated by their governments, and are familiar with the educational realities in the region and the specific needs and capacities of their countries’ education systems. Participants will pilot the tool in their respective countries for approximately three months, after which they will join a Feedback Workshop in April 2013, in Bangkok, Thailand.

The technical guidance tool is intended to provide enabling frameworks and tools to support countries and sub-national jurisdictions move the DRR curricular agenda forward. This initiative addresses one of the key strategic areas of action for the second half of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

Building a culture of safety and resilience at all levels by strengthening disaster preparedness for effective response is one of the priorities of Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 and an important element of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005–2014).  

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By Dani Harake, UNESCO Bangkok