Children are particularly vulnerable during disasters due to their lack of understanding, experience and capacity to respond.
Therefore, Plan International China operates a child-centred Safe Schools Project in areas that are prone to disasters. This involves preparing children, especially those who are marginalised, for disasters in and around schools. The project also provides a replicable model that can be copied across the country.
The project encourages schools to integrate disaster risk reduction education into their curriculums. Plan International China develops and distributes relevant guidelines, DVDs, and textbooks for teachers and students. Safe school activities and games are also included in the education plan, and carried out in the classrooms.
“Those schools also carry out disaster risk reduction activities with children in their communities to raise the awareness of residents,” said Zhang Qi, Disaster Risk Management Officer.
Children’s participation is key in the Safe Schools project. With support from teachers, children figure out vulnerabilities in their schools and surroundings, set up emergency response committees, spread knowledge around their communities, as well as organising and carrying out emergency simulations.
Mr. Huang, a teacher from Adebo Primary School in Jinping County, Yunnan Province, was surprised at the children’s performance during the project activities. “It seems that I underestimated rural children’s abilities in painting, analysis and thinking in our mountainous area. In fact, they are very capable of figuring out the risks and vulnerabilities in their surroundings.”
Yan, a 10-year old girl from Qiaocaiping Primary School, says, “I learnt what to do and how to protect myself while landslides, floods and earthquakes happen.”