Disaster Risk Reduction in School Curricula: Case Studies from Thirty Countries

Executive Summary

This document reports the findings of a UNICEF/UNESCO Mapping of Global DRR Integration into Education Curricula consultancy. The researchers were tasked with capturing key national experiences in the integration of disaster risk reduction in the curriculum, identifying good practice, noting issues addressed and ones still lacking and reviewing learning outcomes.
The methodology employed has been one of meta-research of available literature and case study documentary research into the experiences of thirty countries.

The most frequently found approach to DRR integration is that of infusion, i.e., disaster-related themes and topics that are woven into speci!c school subjects. DRR is, for the most part, integrated into a narrow band of subjects, typically the physical and natural sciences, although there are examples of its appearance across a wider range of subjects. There are a limited number of examples of DRR appearing as the primary focus or key strand within a special new subject area. Moreover, there is little evidence of cross-curricular linkages being forged nor of an interdisciplinary approach being adopted. If horizontal integration is not prominent, neither is vertical integration of DRR learning at the primary and secondary grade levels.

A broad range of approaches to integrating disaster risk reduction has been identi!ed: the textbook-driven approach; the pilot project approach; the centralized competency-based approach (in which curriculum development is determined by the identi!cation of key competencies); the centrally developed special subject approach; the symbiosis approach (in which an established cross-curricular dimension such as environmental education, education for sustainable development or life skills education serves as a carrier for DRR); the ‘special event’ approach. The advantages and disadvantages of each approach are enumerated.

Learning and teaching approaches used in addressing DRR curriculum tend to be generally limited in application. Links are not, in many cases, being made between the competency, community engagement and proactive citizenship ambitions of DRR and the need for interactive, participatory and ‘in the !eld’ learning through which competencies, involvement literacy and con!dence are built. Successful examples of interactive, inquiry, experiential and action learning are to be found across the case studies but not in great numbers. There is little evidence for affective learning approaches (involving the sharing of feelings and emotions) even though learning about hazard and disaster can elicit a strong emotional response in the learner. The need for affective learning becomes ever stronger in that the increasing incidence of disaster means that pre-disaster learning is increasingly taking place in post-disaster or slow-onset disaster learning environments.