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Introduction
School Safety
Amongst all the public facilities, children in schools are among the most vulnerable groups during any disaster. A large number of municipal and privately managed schools operate in various urban centres, many of which are built in congested areas and are exposed to various hazards. Further adding to the vulnerability is the improper siting of these buildings. Inadequacies in the structure and lack of preparedness measures can have disastrous consequences in the event of an earthquake. Interventions both structural as well as nonstructural to reduce vulnerabilities thus become very important for schools as well as all lifeline structures. The non-structural measures include communicating the risk, creating awareness and building capacities in preparedness and mitigation, school and neighborhood preparedness plans.

In a school safety programme there is need to have school building level emergency preparedness and response plans, schedule time in the busy school day to practice drills to respond efficiently and effectively to occurrences that might be encountered, and to check plans to be sure that the information is complete and up-to date. For example, does the staff or the children know the chain of command in case of an incident? Does everyone know who is responsible for what in an emergency? Do all teachers know what they would do if confronted with a situation of fire in a classroom? Have the entrances and exit been checked to ensure clear access to open spaces? These are just a few of the questions to be revisited periodically. It has been identified that many of the schools do not address issue of safety. However, many of these ideas and concepts may be initiated and carried out by school authorities along with the district and local administration. The most important strategy is to place school safety on the educational agenda.

School Safety

In a typical school environment, there are several areas where safety concerns exist. It may be possible to identify and list them, but specific actions require the attention of school managers and local authorities. There are several aspects to be addressed for school safety. The challenge is to build these aspects to the lives of children so that these become and inherent part of their culture towards safety. Partnerships with the local institutions need to be built up to initiate the process rather than wait for a disaster to occur. It is the moral obligation of the current generation to help create safe schools and take care of our future generation. The target people in the School Safety Programme will be essentially education department, administrators, emergency officials, teachers, students and the community by large. By educating children and building safety into their lives we are ensuring a generation of future disaster managers. By educating teachers and community we are ensuring sustainability and building of a disaster resilient society.

The School Safety Programme essentially targets in promoting a culture of disaster safety in school. Primary strategies are to help inform, persuade, and integrate the issues of safety to create safe schools. The aim of the programme is to promote a culture of disaster preparedness in the school community. The objective of the programme is to sensitize children and the school community on issues of disaster preparedness and safety measures and to motivate key stakeholders through direct participation in activities that would foster towards a disaster resilient community.
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