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UNESCO launches World Campaign on disaster prevention through education

Indonesia – Banda Aceh – surroundings of Mosque after earthquake and tsunami.

16 June 2006 - Disaster prevention starts at school. This is the major theme of a campaign launched on 15 June by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and ISDR Director Sálvano Briceño at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters.

English schoolgirl Tilly Smith explained how she saved lives in Thailand in December 2004 thanks to a geography lesson about tsunamis. Other children who have survived natural disasters told their stories.

“Disaster prevention through education” advocates making disaster reduction education part of school curricula and encouraging school construction standards designed to with stand natural hazards.

In Mexico, Romania and New Zealand, teaching of disaster-related subjects is mandatory. Countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba and Japan include it in their primary and secondary curricula at the state and municipal level.

The World Campaign is spearheaded by the Inter-Agency Secretariat of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), UNESCO and the French National Committee for the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

UNESCO and education in emergencies and reconstruction

Building capacity and raising awareness

Together with UNESCO Headquarters and Field Offices, the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP):

  • builds the capacity of educational planners and managers in conflict-affected nations,
  • advocates the need to conduct education in conflict, emergencies and reconstruction.

Providing research and training to help achieve education for all in conflict-affected countries

IIEP conducts in-depth research, documenting lessons learned from the planning and management of education during conflicts. A series of country case studies and thematic policy studies is being published. A Summer School was organized in 2003 and is now serving as a pilot for new courses.

Collaborating with numerous national and local educational actors on activities in conflict-affected countries

IIEP works closely with members of the INEE (Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies). Partners include the World Bank, UNESCO International Bureau of Education, UNHCR, UNICEF and many NGOs.


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