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Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
MON5.4: Panel discussion on education for disaster risk reduction
Time: Monday, 27/Aug/2012: 2:40pm - 4:10pm
Session Chair: Julia HEISS, UNESCO
Location: Dischma

Session organized by UNESCO and UNICEF


Education for disaster risk reduction

Julia HEISS1, Guillaume SIMONIAN2

1United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); 2United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

One of the most important lessons to emerge from the series of devastating disasters worldwide over the past decade is that education and knowledge have the power to save lives. Education systems are vital for reducing the risk, strengthening resilience and supporting recovery from disasters. In particular, since vulnerability is not a ‘given’ but is variable depending on awareness, preparedness, anticipation and readiness to take action, education has a key role to play in disaster risk reduction (DRR). The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) also emphasized that education plays a crucial role in disaster prevention and promotes education for disaster reduction through the UNISDR Thematic Platform on Knowledge and Education (TPKE).

Learning about disaster risks in primary and secondary schools can make a contribution to saving lives of people. Quality education can provide life-saving and life-sustaining information and skills that protect children and young people during and after emergencies. What people know is more important than what they have when it comes to saving lives and reducing loss.

Therefore the inclusion of disaster risk reduction (DRR) components in curriculum, teacher education training and community learning, school management, and school infrastructure will increase the level of preparedness and protection of education systems and the resilience and preparedness level in disaster prone communities.

“Building a culture of safety and resilience at all levels”, which is one of the priorities of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015, explicitly calls for the “integration of disaster risk reduction as an intrinsic element of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005–2014).”The Hyogo Framework for Action also prioritizes strengthening disaster preparedness for effective response with recognition that impacts of disasters can be substantially reduced if we are well prepared and ready to act and are equipped with the knowledge and capacities for effective disaster management.

Governments and actors supporting the integration of disaster risk reduction in school curricula and management are thus seeking more systematic knowledge on what is already being done, whether the measures taken are successful, and how they might work to strengthen the promotion of DRR through formal and informal education.

The panel/side event will discuss different approaches to disaster risk reduction through education and present recent research, case studies as well as guidance instruments on the issue. These include: a) a study, commissioned by UNESCO and UNICEF, which researched present key national experiences in the integration of disaster risk reduction in the curriculum, identifying good practice, pointing out issues addressed and those still lacking in the curriculum, and reviewing learning outcomes; b) a schools safety baseline report recently developed by the ISDR Thematic Platform for Knowledge and Education revisits existing reports about all aspects of school safety, gathered from 80 countries, and refers to the key advocacy and guidance documents for school safety of the past 7 years to develop an analysis that reflects the best practices in achieving the goals of comprehensive school safety, and current concerns and recommendations of advocates and practitioners; c) a technical guidance instrument, currently being developed by UNESCO and UNICEF, will provide policy-makers and curriculum developers in governments, NGOs and UN agencies with guidance on how to effectively integrate DRR into school curricula.


• Demonstrate the importance of education for disaster risk reduction

• Discuss the opportunities and challenges of integrating disaster risk reduction into schools

• Share experiences on DRR in school management and curricula

• Launch the UNICEF/ UNESCO publication Disaster Risk Reduction in school curricula: case studies from thirty countries

- David Selby, Founding Director, Sustainability Frontiers
- Fumiyo Kagawa, Research Director, Sustainability Frontiers
- Dmitri Kavtaradze, Director of the Chair of Ecology and Environmental
- Preservation in the Academy of Social Affairs, Russian Federation.
- Marla Petal, Author of the School Safety Baseline study
- Ian Rodgers, Emergency Advisor, Disaster Risk reduction and preparedness at Save the Children
- Guillaume Simonian, Programme Officer, Office of Emergency - Programmes, Preparedness & DRR Section; United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
- Daniel Kull, Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR)
- Badaoui Rouhban, Director, Unit for Natural Disasters, UNESCO

A Global Mapping of Disaster Risk Reduction Curriculum

David SELBY, Fumiyo KAGAWA

Sustainability Frontiers

This presentation will highlight the key findings of a conjoint UNICEF/UNESCO mapping study of the integration of disaster risk reduction (DRR) into primary and secondary school curriculum globally. Across 30 case studies, the study examines disciplinary, interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary manifestations of DRR in the curriculum, strategies for introducing disaster risk reduction into school curricula, pedagogies employed in teaching disaster risk reduction, teacher professional development, DRR learning outcomes and approaches to mainstreaming DRR in the school system. Each of these areas will be briefly reviewed in the presentation. It will be argued that DRR tends to appear in a narrow band of school subjects, typically the physical and natural sciences, with little horizontal integration or learning reinforcement across the curriculum. Vertical (through the grade levels) integration of DRR learning is likewise thin. Also, although DRR ambitions are oriented towards competency-building and learner engagement in and with the community, the limited use of participatory pedagogies rather stifles the ambition. Expressed ambitions notwithstanding, forms of learning assessment currently being employed do not lend themselves to measuring whether capacities and dispositions for disaster risk reduction are being cultivated but more or less adhere to traditional testing of knowledge. Systematic professional development directed towards developing the 'DRR facilitative and reflective practitioner' is called for. In short, while there are noteworthy examples of curriculum development, use of active pedagogies and successful movement to scale, there is still much to do if the commitment of the ISDR Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction to integrating DRR into school curricula worldwide by 2015 is to be realized. The presenters will make a series of recommendations for narrowing, if not closing, the gap between ambition and actuality.

Launch of the UNICEF/ UNESCO publication Disaster Risk Reduction in school curricula: case studies from thirty countries




Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction into the Curriculum: A Technical Guidance Tool

Fumiyo KAGAWA, David SELBY

Sustainability Frontiers

This presentation will introduce a recently-completed UNESCO/UNICEF Technical Guidance Tool for introducing disaster risk reduction (DRR) into education sector policies, curricula and assessment at primary and secondary school level. The Tool is mainly for policy makers and curriculum developers in government, non-governmental and UN agencies. It will first be argued that disaster risk reduction education (DRRE) should be located within an education for sustainable development (ESD) framework and that, within that frame, it can be aligned with climate change education (CCE), life skills education and child-friendly learning initiatives, and so make a significant contribution to the evolving notion of quality education. Thereafter, the main features of the Tool will be reviewed: its insistence on systematic horizontal and vertical integration of DRR in school curricula; its guidance on the planning and progression of curriculum development (and its emphasis on consensus-building within multi-sector partnership); its demonstration of processes whereby learning context-appropriate learning outcomes as well as learning outcome progression can be determined and constructive alignment achieved between outcomes and forms and styles of learner assessment; its guidance on the development of learning modules and associated activities and materials and its dovetailed advice on the facilitation of learning; its teacher professional development guidelines and proposals; its benchmarks and indicators for monitoring and evaluating curriculum and its delivery. Finally, the presenters will briefly look through the lenses of the whole school and whole system at issues of DRR curriculum mainstreaming.

Cultural landscape of DRR in Russia


Ecology and Environmental Preservation in the Academy of Social Affairs, Russian Federation

It is estimated that 80% of loss of life as a result of natural disasters are "human made". Therefore the Russian government introduced a new discipline which includes citizenship, healthy life style, first aid, and general risk reduction, already more than 10 years ago. Together with an introduction on geology, astronomy, geography, biology etc. in the school standard syllabus this was regarded as a step towards a "Culture of safe lifestyle and behavior". Important part of this “education about oneself” and gaining knowledge on practical behavior n unpredicted events by interactive exercises and tools following the rule: ”In dangerous situation people behave not as they were taught, but as the able to act”.

Assessing school safety from disasters- a baseline study (on video)


Author of the School Safety Baseline study

This desk review revisits existing reports about all aspects of school safety, gathered from 81 countries, and refers to the key advocacy and guidance documents for school safety of the past 7 years to develop an analysis that reflects the best practices in achieving the goals of comprehensive school safety, and current concerns and recommendations of advocates and practitioners. A basic and simple framework for understanding the scope of school safety recognizes three main pillars: safe school facilities, school disaster management, and disaster prevention and risk reduction education. Each of these requires separate tracking because the types of policies, decision-making authority, resources, expertise, and implementing actors are substantially different for each.

The Analysis section of this report draws from the wide range of reports and case studies and lessons learned from the practices of the past few years. It has afforded an opportunity to summarize many of the strengths and opportunities as well as the weaknesses and threats found in this literature. Illustrative examples and selected good practices are also provided to help in understanding the current state of the art.

Disaster Risk Management in Schools – The Second Pillar


Save the Children

The Education sector in most countries can be described as a fairly flat hierarchical system that has deep roots and penetration at community level. By this nature it also means that ensuring consistency and compliance of standard operating procedures is difficult to roll out, monitor and verify. In addition often due to the sprawling nature of Education it is often administratively decentralized. This realistic approach to management can often have a negative effect on the centralization of important data such as how many schools, exact locations, staffing, attendance records, geo-spatial data of surrounding environments, structural designs, etc.. This type of data is key to disaster risk management and planning, particularly for external stakeholders such as local disaster management committees and response personnel this poses a challenge. There is consensus amongst stakeholders that the 3 core pillars of Safer Schools are Structural Safety, Disaster Risk Management of Schools and DRR Education. All three areas are interlinked and to some degree interdependent. However progress has not been even amongst the three pillars. Often Education institutes in country, donors, international organizations and CSO alike choose one pillar as an entry point. To this point recent studies have shown that great strides forward have been made in Structural Safety and DRR education pillars and less progress made in the integration of disaster risk management within school operations. During this presentation it will be discussed as to why this uneven take up has occurred. Propositions, examples and lessons learnt will be used to discuss how to encourage an increase in the second pillar of disaster risk management in schools. Key points of the presentation will include costs, human resources and capacity associated with Disaster Risk Management in Schools and who the key stakeholders outside the immediate confines of a school administration are.

Disaster risk reduction and education

Guillaume SIMONIAN

Preparedness & DRR Section; United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Recognizing its global role in promoting the Rights of children to Education, and that:

1- Disasters may result in the damage or destruction of learning facilities and materials, the closure of schools and the prolonged disruption of education, increased barriers to education, limited access to schooling, and decreased education quality; and that

2- The overarching objective of DRR in education is the systematic integration of the analysis of disaster risks and DRR measures into education sector development policy, planning and financing obligations.

UNICEF promotes globally and at country level three commonly accepted goals relating to DRR education and school safety:

(1) promotion of DRR in teaching and learning;

(2) provision of safe school environments; and

(3) promotion of school safety and disaster management, e.g. drills.

Throughout the World, in the Caucasus, East Asia, Africa, or South America, UNICEF is a major player in making school safer along these three dimensions.

This presentation will aim at presenting UNICEF's global approach to DRR education, and will provide examples of successes in countries where the organization has been promoting specific programmes for DRR Education.

Structural Resilience for School Safety

Daniel KULL

World Bank, Switzerland

Developing countries have made progress in designing and implementing programs to make schools more resilient to natural disasters. Experience shows there is no one-size-fits-all solution and that building resilience in infrastructure to address present-day and future risks is a clear win-win situation: the additional costs are minimal and inaction can have dire consequences further down the road. Opportunities for such investments however only materialize when countries have the right incentives, capacity, tools and support. While much progress has been achieved in improving school safety through non-structural measures, there remains a need for focus on the structural dimensions of school resilience, which the World Bank has identified as an area in which it can clearly add value. Moving forward requires bringing together the structural and non-structural dimensions of school safety in a partnership approach.

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