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Safe schools: Sang's story

Sang, 12, was born deaf. Through a project to prepare schools for natural disasters he has taken the lead and is determined to keep his class mates safe.

Nguyen Thanh Sang is guiding his peers through the disaster risk map at school
Nguyen Thanh Sang is guiding his peers through the disaster risk map at school

Sang, 12, from a small village in Quang Binh province, was born deaf. He was also born into a poor family – his father collected plastic waste and his mother worked as a hairdresser. Sang’s parents’ efforts were not enough to support their children so they moved to Laos for work and sent the children to live with their grandparents.

I learned how to know dangerous places and keep myself safe during natural disasters.

Despite living in difficult circumstances, Sang has always been a bright child. A teacher from an education centre persuaded his family to let him study at the centre. Supported by the teachers there, Sang grew in confidence and learned new skills.

Safe schools during disasters

He also started to participate in a safe schools initiative which supports thousands of children and their communities to become more resilient to the effects of climate change and prepare for natural disasters.

Sang became an active member of the project, contributing to discussions and evaluating where children could be at danger from disasters in his community. 

Sang in communication event about disaster risk management
Sang in communication event about disaster risk management

His teachers and groupmates recognised his passion and voted him to become their group leader. In this new position, he organised activities at school to show his friends how to protect themselves when disasters strike. 

“Since joining the project I learned about disasters, how to know dangerous places and keep myself safe during natural disasters,” said Sang.

According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Hoang Anh, deputy director of the educational center, “This project leads to the increase in knowledge of preventing danger during natural disasters. Now all the students know where is safe and dangerous when natural disasters occur.”

Keeping children safe

The safe schools project is implemented by Plan International Vietnam alongside the Quang Binh Department of Education and Training and the Quang Binh Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities and is funded through Plan International Australia.

The project supported 4 schools in the first year and expanded to 4 more in the second year. The project has equipped students, teachers and parents with the knowledge and skills needed to prepare for disasters. It has also improved the infrastructure of schools to make them safer in the event of an emergency. 

Moving forward, the safe school project model is being replicated by the Dong Hoi Committee Division of Education and Training in the whole community in the near future.