Disaster risk reduction through school learners’ awareness and preparedness16 August 2013
In 2006, the ISDR (International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) (2007) initiated a campaign called Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School to encourage the integration of disaster risk education into school curricula in countries vulnerable to disasters. A study was initiated to determine how education, in particular curriculum development and teaching, contributes to South African learners’ hazard awareness and disaster preparedness. Mixed method research (consisting of questionnaires, interviews and document reviews) was done to collect data. 150 educators from Gauteng, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, North West and the Eastern Cape completed questionnaires. Five curriculum coordinators, three disaster specialists and two disaster lecturers were interviewed to record their perspectives. The first finding of the study was that the majority of educators, disaster specialists and curriculum coordinators identified floods, fire, droughts, epidemics, road accidents and storms as the most prevalent disasters in the country. The second finding from the literature and empirical data collection revealed that South African communities, particularly people residing in informal settlements and other poor areas, are more vulnerable to disasters than their counterparts in more affluent areas. The third finding of the study was that teaching learners about hazards and disasters is vital and must be expanded.