Schools are critical infrastructure entrusted with the responsibility of creating citizens of tomorrow. A safe and secure environment is a prerequisite for effective teaching and learning. Thus, ensuring safety of children, teachers and staff members during disasters is necessary. In the light of recent tragedies involving school children, like the Kumbakonam fire tragedy, Dabwali fire incident and earthquakes around the world where school children were affected due to unsafe school infrastructure. It becomes of greatest importance that safety of children is given due consideration, thus making schools safe also serves the purpose of their dual use as evacuation centres during emergencies.
Building safe schools should be a priority for architects, engineers, policy makers, administrators and emergency response planners. Among all public facilities, children in schools are the most vulnerable during disasters. A large number of schools operate in rural centres and are exposed to various hazards. School safety includes within its ambit structural safety of the buildings and non-structural measures like awareness generation, ensuring communication, school preparedness plans, capacity building of students and teachers, rehearsals and mock drills etc. Building safe schools will not only ensure safety of children in disasters, but will also promote faster rehabilitation post disaster.
The overall aim of the programme is to facilitate actions by schools to prevent and mitigate disasters, climate risks and enhance preparedness and develop capacities for effective disaster management in schools. It further seeks to identify and clarify the roles and responsibilities of the internal and external stakeholder’s throughout the entire cycle of disaster management i.e. pre-disaster, during disaster and post-disaster phases. Following are the objectives:
• To aware all stakeholders in school safety.
• To initiate mitigation measures in schools.
• To prepare schools for Disaster Risk Reduction.
• To encourage schools to prepare school disaster management plans.
• To build capacity of schools for conducting mock drills.
• To establish DIET as model institute for Disaster Risk Reduction.