Nepal | September 29, 2020

Students’ safety in schools, colleges in question

Kokila KC
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Kathmandu, April 27

Students spend a large portion of their time in school and college. Hence, the need for schools and colleges to be safe from all kinds of dangers.

However, the damage to schools and educational institutions during the earthquakes last year poses a serious question. Are our schools really safe? The government should take into account various aspects to ensure Comprehensive School Safety while reconstructing them.

CSS is a framework intended to advance the goals of the Worldwide Initiative for Safe Schools and the Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector, and to promote school safety as a priority area of post-2015 frameworks for sustainable development, risk reduction and resilience.

The framework aims to protect learners and education workers from death, injury, and harm in schools; plan for educational continuity in the face of all expected hazards and threats; safeguard education sector investments and strengthen risk reduction and resilience through education.

The CSS rests on three pillars — safe learning facilities, school disaster management and risk reduction and resilience education.

The devastating earthquake on April 25 last year damaged 9,353 schools in 59 districts. The total damage and losses in the education sector was estimated at Rs 31.3 billion, according to Post Disaster Need Assessment.

Nepal government has geared up interventions in hard components such as schools reconstruction, while other soft components such as awareness among students, teachers and other stakeholders have been given less attention.

Bidhyanath Koirala, educationist, said today that there was a need of an integrated approach to CSS. “Education system, schools and other stakeholders should be aware of disaster risk reduction and their roles and responsibilities to ensure school safety.” He stated that along with building safe infrastructure, teachers training, and awareness among parents and teachers were a must.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Nepal faces an average of 900 natural disasters each year, resulting in loss of lives and damaged livelihoods.

Curriculum Development Centre said they have incorporated lessons on natural disasters and preparedness in the course books from Grade I to X.

Baburam Gautam, deputy director, CDC, said, “We have incorporated plenty of content on natural disasters and its preparedness in the school curriculum.” He further said that they have prepared teachers’ guide with information on 14 types of natural disasters and resource books for teachers.

Similarly, National Center for Educational Development laid emphasis on imparting disaster risk reduction training to teachers.

Surya Gautam, executive director, NCED, said after the earthquakes last year, they had incorporated lessons on natural disaster and disaster risk reduction in the main course of teachers’ training.“A few weeks ago, we had organised Training of Trainers on DRR at NCED,” he said, adding, “Gradually we will mainstream the training nationwide.”

Dr Hari Lamsal, spokesperson, MoE, said most of education plans and policies have addressed DRR issues. “We plan to mainstream CSS across the country,” he said.

A version of this article appears in print on April 28, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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