Why study natural risks in school?

The following translation is graciously provided by ISTIC.

The demographic explosion and the colonization of new spaces in particular along major river beds and close to the coasts have significantly increased the exposure of populations to natural risks. In addition, the desertification of the countryside and the proliferation of megalopolises, with often ill-tamed urban development have increased the vulnerability of our societies to disaster.

Some recent events with very heavy human and/or financial impact have deeply marked spirits; as examples, let us refer to the 2004 tsunami in Asia, the earthquake in Haiti or the storm Xynthia on the French coast in 2010 and, more recently, the tsunami in Japan in 2011.
In most cases, the number of victims could have been greatly reduced if people had been suitably informed, empowered and prepared. This is why the action plan adopted in 2005 by the United Nations in order to reduce the risks of natural disasters grants a great place to education and awareness campaigns.

ESD and education about risk

Risk education is to teach the children to live with the risks in the most responsible way possible, to give them a culture of risk and an understanding of the hazards and issues, so that they can adopt appropriate behaviors. Although it is an integral part of education for sustainable development (ESD), risk education is still hardly addressed in schools, probably due to lack of resources or training of teachers on this topic.

The primary school and the town hall “hand in hand”

Such a project is essentially multidisciplinary, applying knowledge and skills from sciences, geography, civic instruction (but also from mathematics, new technologies, teaching of languages…). It thus benefits from the versatility of the teacher and primary school programs, which encourage such a cross disciplinary approach.

Another reason why the primary school offers a particularly favorable context for this project is the closeness between the school and the county council on the subject of risk prevention. It is indeed the mayor who has the legal responsibility to inform his constituents of the risks which exist in his county… and he also in charge of primary schools. Teachers and the municipality may find it very beneficial to work hand in hand in order to meet their legal obligations and their teaching objectives. This approach which can seem natural is not obvious and is only very seldom implemented in practice.

One of the objectives of the project “When the Earth Rumbles” is to provide schools and counties with a common tool and methodology to enable them to work as partners in the prevention of natural risks.

Socios del proyecto

Fundación La main à la pâte