Chandigarh, Mar 19 : Acting on the time-tested premise that it is not the hazards that kill, but ill-preparedness and lack of awareness that convert a hazard into a disaster, the Secondary Education Department of Haryana Government has scripted a disaster awareness-cum-preparedness plan for children of secondary schools. Each school in the state will now have a Disaster Mangement (DM) Club.Disclosing this here today, Mr Vijayendra Kumar, Director, Secondary Education, said that the script revolved around the finding that children were the most vulnerable victims of any hazard, be it a natural disaster like flood, earthquake or landslide, or manmade disaster like fire, terror attacks, stampede etc. Hence, it is important to address disaster preparedness through fun activities in schools to promote the culture of safety and preparedness at a young age.
“Since young minds are most receptive to new ideas, we have decided to catch them young, give them training, and make them aware of certain basic principles that will not only enable them to save their lives, but also being future citizens, they would be able to play an important role in nation-building”, he said.
Outlining broad contours of the plan, Mr Vijayendra Kumar said that the DM Club in each school would serve as a resource centre for children to create awareness generation material for disasters, including lists of some “Do’s and Don’ts”, posters and calendars etc.
Referring to capacity building of the staff, Mr Kumar said the target was to cover all government schools right from primary to senior secondary level. “Training will be imparted to some master trainers, about 10 in each district, and 210 persons in all, for about 21 days by an expert agency. Four teachers in every school will be trained by one resource person from the agency, and our master trainer. Besides, a three-day residential training will be given,” he added.
The clubs will promote the culture of safety among students and theirfamilies, teach students how to prepare hazard maps for their community and school, and equip them with basic lessons in tackling a fire outbreak, an accident in a chemical laboratory, earthquake, flood or even a bomb threat or hostage crisis. Besides, they will promote awareness on disaster management, draw emergency preparedness and response plans for the school, involving students and PTI teachers. While their librararies will provide books on disasters to educate the students, the clubs will provide them training on health, safety and disaster relief.
Mr Kumar said that the clubs would help inculcate in students volunteer and leadership faculties. In the event of any disaster taking place in the approachable community, members of the club will fan out and help in relief work by collecting clothes, donations, food and other necessity items. The clubs will also organize disaster management awareness generation painting competitions and exhibit disaster management films/ documentaries every week. These would also involve families of students in disaster management activities, and undertake plantation activities for the school and the nearby community. The concerned Deputy Commissioner will give prizes and recognition to encourage the students.
Mr Kumar said that every DM Club volunteer will be asked to give the following commitment: “I will give myself and my time to improve my life, and the lives of those around me; support and follow the DM Club, Mission Statement, and fundamental principles; donate at least two hours a week for club activities, attend club meetings regularly and educate members of my family and friends about disasters.”