Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS), an NGO, has unveiled a ‘safe school’ project for 50 Delhi government and east corporation schools in order to prepare them for disasters.
The project will cover 25,000 students, 40,000 parents and 1,000 teachers. The schools have been identified following a study on how safe they were. Of those surveyed for the study, 93% had no idea if there was a disaster management plan in their child’s school and nearly the whole surveyed population did not know of a disaster helpline number.
SEEDS Executive Director Manu Gupta said all the identified schools were in east Delhi. “They face the maximum risk and need intervention,” he said. The 3,070 schools across Delhi which lie in the high-seismic zone include all 624 schools in east Delhi and 3,16,321 students from this area are at risk as the schools are on the Yamuna floodplain.
The study also recognised potential risks related to natural and man-made disasters and revealed that parents were not aware of them. About 60% of the respondents blamed inadequate response systems for losses during disasters, however, 99% of them did not know of any helpline number.
The three-year safe schools programme includes structural assessment of each school by engineers and architects; evaluation of risk perception among children, teachers and parents; and examination of preparedness in the face of any natural or man-made disaster.
Experts from SEEDS plan to work closely with children, schools and communities to train them in preparing for disasters and reducing risk. The programme will also address issues unique to a specific location to ensure children go to school without fear, remain safe there and also return home safely.
The project was launched with support from Honeywell.