KATHMANDU, May 27
The devastating earthquake of April 25 measuring magnitude 7.8 has become an eye opener for the government, finally leading it to include earthquake-related education in the school curriculum.
The academic curriculum for school going children had so far failed to educate students about Nepal’s high vulnerability to earthquake and other natural disasters.
“The reaction of children and adults during the earthquake shows a serious drawback in school education and an urgency to introduce earthquake-related education in the school curriculum,” said Assistant Spokesperson for the Ministry of Education (MoE) Saraswati Pokhrel.
The ministry will soon start work on reviewing the curriculum after the quake stabilizes, said Pokhrel speaking at a program on Tuesday.
While the government is set to reopen schools on June 1, the schools must be well prepared to deal with the situation if there is another strong aftershock, said Chairperson of Guardian Association Suprabhat Bhandari.
“The situation has changed here overnight and we can’t wait for the government to include disaster education in the school curriculum,” said Bhandari adding that the awareness should begin from day one of the school.
He further urged the government authorities to explore reliable measures to save children from the earthquake arguing that I/NGO’s training to the students proved worthless to students who died in the quake.
Probably the only thing children were trained to do as preparedness for earthquake was to lay down with the knees folded and protect head with the both hands. Sadly, that was the same posture in which the bodies of minors were recovered from the debris.
The immediate preparedness for the children includes their psychoanalysis and an effort to take them out of the mental trauma. The District Education Offices (DEO) are making arrangements to send children to the Temporary Learning Centre (TLC) to get normalized.
The government report points out that around 300 Valley-based schools, both government and private, have been affected by the quake, with over 600 classrooms destroyed. As many as 904 classrooms are still intact but are at the risk of collapsing.
Lalitpur DEO Shiva Sapkota said 30 out of 190 TLC were set up till Tuesday. “We are positive about the June 1 deadline to reopen schools,” he claimed.
In Kathmandu, 231 TLC are required. A total of 260 schools have been marked red whereas 484 have been marked green here till now. The inspection of the technical team is still on in Valley schools.
Minister criticized for failed leadership
Teachers have criticized Minister for Education Chitra Lekha Yadav for not leading the education sector in the time of disaster. They have said that while she should have been active in leading the education sector in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, she is on a week-long foreign trip.
“The political leadership has played no role in normalizing the situation in the aftermath of the quake, while teachers are doing their bit from the day of the earthquake,” said Ramesh Rupakheti, a member of All Nepal Teachers’ Organization (ANTO), the umbrella organization of teachers.
Teachers have contributed Rs600 million to the Prime Minister Relief Fund. They donated their five days’ salary to the PM relief fund. Similarly, ANTO has mobilized its team in all the 14 severely affected districts to provide counseling to teachers and prepare them to get back to work.
Published on May 26 in Republica Daily