50 Delhi schools to be made disaster-ready

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New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) Students and teachers of 50 schools in east Delhi will be trained about disaster-preparedness and safety, an NGO said on Thursday.

The Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS), a non-profit, on Thursday launched Honeywell Safe Schools — a holistic school safety and disaster risk reduction programme funded by a Honeywell India grant.

It will empower 25,000 students and 1,000 teachers across 50 Delhi schools — 32 government and 18 municipal — to make them disaster-ready. It will continue for three years.

The programme is tailor-made to address each school’s unique challenges to ensure that children go to school without fear, remain safe there and return home safely.

SEEDS also undertook a baseline study to understand school safety and disaster-preparedness in Delhi, assess risks and risk perception and determine remedial measures.

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While releasing the study, member of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Kamal Kishore said people looked at the notion of safety and risk reduction in a narrow sense and perhaps this was the reason why school safety initiatives could not achieve desired results.

“There is a need to bring disaster issues in school curriculum. The notion of risk — whether it’s everyday risk or the extreme risk — has to be incorporated in a much more sophisticated and integrated way,” Kishore said assuring support to the programme.

Manu Gupta, Executive Director, SEEDS, said the baseline study highlights that there is a need to create awareness among children, parents, teachers, and civic authorities to mitigate the impact of disasters.

He said Delhi was at a high risk of two natural hazards that could lead to major disasters — earthquakes and floods. However, since no significant flood or earthquake have occurred recently, there was low recall and awareness about associated risks.

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“We will go through a layer-wise exercise at the selected 50 schools. We will train the students and school staff, including teachers, in disaster-preparedness and risk reduction. We will also conduct mock drills at these 32 government and 18 EDMC schools in east Delhi,” Gupta said.

“We will also survey the buildings of the identified schools to find out how safe they are. We will share these survey reports with the Directorate of Education in Delhi government who have assured to support us in this cause,” Gupta added.

Honeywell India President Vikas Chadha said the Honeywell Safe Schools Programme involves structural assessment of each school by engineers and architects, evaluation of risk perception among children, teachers and parents, and examination of preparedness in the face of any natural or man made disaster.

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“There will be interactive sessions, mock drills, peer-to-peer learning, and non-structural mitigation of risks. It will have a meaningful impact,” Chadha said.



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