Skip to main content

Students Take the Lead on School Safety

In one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, school students in Myanmar are taking the lead on keeping themselves, and each other safer during emergencies.

“I know that even if I face a disaster I can keep myself and others safe. I feel more ready now.”

For thirteen year old Su Wai Lwin, today is the day she’s been practicing for.

For the last 3 months she’s been a member of her School Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) in Yangon. She’s one of 5 students who have been trained to conduct search and rescue operations if a natural disaster strikes.

Today, her school is conducting an emergency simulation exercise, so all students know how to get to a safe place, and to help each other.

“I’ve never joined a project like this before,” said Su Wai Lwin. “When I joined the SDMC I got a better understanding of how to prepare for and respond to disasters, and I’ve been able to share my knowledge with my friends.”

I’m so happy to learn how to rescue others after a disaster.

Su Wai Lwin (2nd from right) and the search and rescue team.

Wearing bright orange overalls and a hard hat, Su Wai Lwin watches the 700 students at her school calmly evacuate during the simulation. Back packs on their heads, the students make their way to an open space and their teachers quickly take attendance.

The search and rescue team look for missing students, put them on a stretcher and take them to the first aid station. Other students are ready with bandages and first aid kits and load the “injured” students into an ambulance.

Police and ambulance officers joined the simulation to make it as life-like as possible.

“I’d like to participate in the simulation next year, we should do this every year. This was the first time for us.”

“We have a responsibility to fulfil in this school and today we could put it into practice. The chance to practice our skills has been really good,” Su Wai Lwin explains.

Plan International has been running Safe Schools projects in Rakhine State since 2014 through the ASEAN Safe Schools Initiative. This Urban DRR project is the first time Plan International Myanmar has worked in an urban setting in the country.

The hazards urban students face are quite different, as traffic, pollution and falling buildings affect them differently to students in rural areas, and the project is designed to reflect this.

Su Wai Lwin has been encouraged to be a female member of the search and rescue team, and has been supported by her classmates, teachers and family.

“In the future I’d like to be a doctor or a police officer so I can help others,” she said.

The Safe Schools Initiative is supported and funded by ECHO.