Culture of Safety in Schools: Mandatory or a choice
Each time a disaster occurs, masses of children are excluded from school and many never return. Past experiences and the available evidences show that education sector is among the hardest hit along with other sectors in the event of disasters in Bangladesh. Starting from Cyclones in 1970, 1991, 2007 and floods in 1998, schools were interrupted due to structural collapse and proximity to the hazards prone location. In the flood plain area majority of schools were closed for more than three months during 1998 and 2007 floods. An estimated 5,927 educational institutions were fully or partially damaged by Cyclone Sidr, resulting in a total value of damage and losses of BDT 4.7 billion. Cases like fire accidents, threats to road injury or accidents and stampede are the human made hazards which make schools more vulnerable. Schools located in the urban and rural areas do have different set of vulnerabilities as the nature of hazards and potential threats are different. There is one common thread between urban and rural schools which is- lack of culture of safety in schools- to have minimum standards/measures to protect students and teachers from any natural or human made hazard, learning materials and property. Culture of safety in schools capture issues like child's right, education and DRR policies, institutions, governance, resource allocation, disaster preparedness and family inclusion within the framework of internal and external environment of the school to reduce the impact of any possible threats to children. The framework of culture of safety in school moves around child's right to uninterrupted continuous education, child's right for safe environment and disaster risk reduction.