Japanese school uses innovative techniques for disaster preparedness | Art & Leisure

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SENDAI, Japan:

Starting this year, Shichigo Primary School in Sendai, located in northeastern Japan, will seek to fully include aspects of disaster awareness in its curriculum.

This is the latest in a series of steps the school has taken to disseminate information on disaster preparedness to children and their families and to develop a self-help mindset. and others in the event of a disaster.

Similar to the integrated learning approach, which is used in the Jamaican school system, students in grades one through six are introduced to different aspects of disaster awareness and preparedness in different subjects.

Sendai’s third largest public primary school, Shichigo, has 1,089 students.

When journalists housed under the Pacific-Caribbean Journalists Program visited the school recently, first graders learned about some of the dangers that could arise with an earthquake, identifying objects that could fall. , move or collapse.

Fourth-graders learned how rice farmers, whose livelihoods had been destroyed by the disaster, were able to rebuild their lives. Thanks to a rice planting project launched in May, they will have practical experience.

“Other schools only spend an hour or two. We do 10 to 3 hours in a group and compile that to be used as disaster education,” said deputy principal Masaki Nakatsuji.

This is for a total of 30 hours per year.

He says the information is designed to fit each grade level and covers units such as environmental and integrated studies.

“Often when we do disaster education it is negative. For example, we will tell children not to do this or that. By creating disaster education we are trying to teach children how to be. safe, how to protect yourself in a disaster. “

20,000 LIFE CLAIMS

But the campaign also involves passing information directly to children, their families and communities to ensure that the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami that struck the island nation and left 20,000 dead on March 11, 2011 does not continue. don’t repeat.

Schichigo Elementary School has been recognized by Japan’s Ministry of Education as one of only two special schools whose focus on disaster awareness has been recommended as a model for the prefecture by the Ministry of Education. from Japan.

Although it is no longer so designated, school leaders continue to focus and seek to extend it even more.

“Students now keep a bosai (a hood made of flame retardant material) – in their desks at school and are so familiar with disaster exercise that they often do not need to be guided by their teachers. “, explains Nakatsuji.

Yet it is a model that appeals to the community for help.

On the day of our visit, the class included a craft session for fifth graders who were tasked with a project to create commemorative coins, or ema, prayer signs typically hung in shrines to express their hopes and their prayers.

They were supervised by students from the Tohoku Institute of Technology.

“These university students were elementary and junior high school students at the time, so the school invited them to share their memories,” Nakatsuji said.

He said that for young students in particular, this sharing of information is crucial because all students who would have experienced the earthquake and tsunami have graduated from the school.

It’s an approach that Kahoku Shimpo Publishing, Shinichi Takeda, has applauded: getting information to people quickly and in a format they may find useful. Takeda heads the Disaster Reduction and Education Projects Division of The Kahoku Shimpo, which is the most influential newspaper in this region.

“I think the initiative is extremely important for teaching children, making the connection between home, school and the community,” he says.

Last year, the local daily set up a project office for disaster reduction and education in response to what it sees as an abandonment by the newspaper of what should have been its duty to develop. a substantial and sustained campaign to inspire the community to learn how to help themselves through a crisis or disaster.

This was confirmed by a readership survey conducted after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that showed 72 percent dissatisfaction with the usefulness of the disaster information provided by the document.

“We didn’t have the backbone to save the lives of local people. So we decided to pass on the information needed for disaster preparedness (to the community) one by one, ”says Takeda. Reports indicate that some 20,000 people have lost their lives.

Too much for a developed country, he suggested.

Now, this designated office, through its team of 10 reporters and editors, organizes once a month group discussions with the community, including 15 lessons per year for students who are trained as custodians of memory.

Far from overstepping his role, he says the media have two important roles: helping communities prepare for disasters; and transmission and enlightenment.

He believes the media should do everything in their power to reduce the impact of disasters.

Takeda says the situation and the responsibility are too immense to simply leave it up to governments to get things done.

He admits that with a budget of J $ 4.4 million (4 billion yen), it’s not a lucrative business, but worth the investment.

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