Education for Natural Disaster Preparedness and its Implementation Mechanism in Nepal

Curriculum for Sustainable Development By: Hridaya Ratna Bajracharya CERID, May 2006

Executive Summary Nepal is a mountainous country. It is a part of important mountain ranges in the region including the Himalayas. These mountains are part of the monsoon rain system that feeds the river and water system in the South Asia. Every year however there are flood and landslide in the country causing lots of disasters -- damage to habitats and deaths of people. Also, Nepal lies in high seismic zone of the earth plates. Earthquake is one of the major disasters in the country and the region as a whole. Nepal lies in a subtropical zone. It has lots of forests. Lots of people depend on forest for livelihood as well as habitat. Every year, there is dry and hot season. Fire hazards bring lots of disaster. Epidemics due to seasonal development of the harmful virus and bacteria and their expansion cause disasters in Nepal every year. Storm and hailstorm also bring regular disasters in the country. Heat wave and cold wave are other disaster types. The problems of natural disasters are recognised by the concerned agencies. The current school curriculum has included sections on natural disasters. These sections are integrated in the traditional subject areas such as science, geography, and environment. However these sections do not address the need to prepare students for in the event of the disasters. There is no educational program for natural disaster preparedness. Besides, there is a lack of teacher preparation, infrastructure and professional support to undertaken the courses effectively in a practical way and relevant to the various recurring disasters in the country. The past experiences show that bringing substantial change in the schools in a way to achieve contextual relevance is hard to achieve. For this, there is a need for more effective and persistent efforts. Teacher preparation is most important in this regard, preparation/orientation of other concerned is equally important. Awareness program and orientation program for all would be important initial strategy to prepare people. Involving community in drill, interaction and panel discussion on regular basis would be important process to keep people concerned and connected. Co-ordination of information and collaboration at different levels – national and international would be important for generating support. Key Words Natural hazards, earthquake, flood, landslide, epidemics, heat wave and cold wave, fire, forest fire, curriculum, curriculum practice, community learning, teacher training, instructional materials, co-curricular activities, curriculum issues, professional support, supervision, resource centre, resource person, school exhibition.


COUNTRY BACKGROUND Nepal is a landlocked country, which borders China in the North and India in the East, South and West. Approximately, it has an area of 147,181 sq. km. Geographically, it consists of three layers of distinct zones: 1) the Himalayas, the high mountain range with snow-covered peaks 2) the mid-hill region with lush green hills and valleys, and 3) Terai, a narrow strip of fertile plains. All these geographic belts of Nepal run from east to west. According to the census of 2001 Nepal has a population of 23151423. Nepal lies at the boundary between the Eurasian landmass and the peninsular India. The collision between the two tectonic plates is the reason behind the rise of mountain ranges in Nepal including the Himalayas. Obviously this boundary zone between the two plates is also a zone of high seismic activities. Earthquake is frequent phenomena in Nepal, almost a regular feature. Because of the high mountain ranges, Nepal is a very important part of the monsoon rain system. The dry and hot season during May, June and July causes water bearing monsoon clouds and northerly winds from the Indian Ocean which is stopped at the high mountains ranges running across Nepal and North India. This causes heavy monsoon along the mountain zone. The rain on the mountain slopes feeds numerous streams, rivers and drains system, all flowing down south back to the Indian Ocean. This is an important cause of regular landslide and flash flood in the mountains and valleys and flood in the plains. Nepal has almost six seasons: Vashant (March/April)), Grishma(May-June), Barsha (JulyAugust), Hemanta (September-October), Sharad (November-December) and Sishir (Janaury-February). The seasonal changes are often marked with microbial activities with implications on health. One during hot and rainy seasons bring tremendous implications because of the rain and flood helping to spread the disease causing water-borne microbes. Mosquitoes and other biological vectors also cause the spread of diseases. Every year Nepal faces epidemic of diarrhoea, dysentery, encephalitis etc. Dry season is real dry and hot and is prone for break out of fire in the forests. Fire also frequently break out in the villages, particularly among the wooden houses and thatched roof. The seasonal changes also bring geographical phenomena like hail storm, heat wave, cold wave, etc. Such hailstorms cause damages to people, animals and properties almost every year. Despite the regular features of most of the natural phenomena, the spontaneity in terms of their disastrous strikes and lack of proper education as well as resources there is little preparation to meet the disasters. Recently, since the last decade, efforts have been made to include topics on natural disasters. The topics are developed in the regular subjects like geography, science and environment. Challenges however remain regarding how to deliver the courses in a practical and meaningful way. Also there is still a need to develop education to prepare people to cope with the disaster situation, not just know about the different natural disasters. The following sections describe the framework and guidelines regarding how that challenges could be taken. Summary: The natural disasters faced by Nepal are mainly the following: Flashflood, flood, landslide forest fire, and fire on thatched wooden houses in the village. Seasonal epidemic is another natural disaster. The most important and hazardous disaster is the earthquakes, it is at the earthquake zone. There is no education to prepare for natural disasters.

DESCRIPTION OF EDUCATION POLICY, STRUCTURE AND PROVISIONS Education Policies Since 1954 the basic policy focus regarding education in Nepal has remained the same: Universalised access to quality basic and primary education, scientific, technical and work oriented secondary level education, and academically competent and economic development oriented tertiary education. Medium and long-term goals and targets of developments, including the goals and targets of educational development, are reflected in the National Development Plans, which cover mostly a period of five years. In the current tenth plan the important areas focussed include: • • Human resources development, in view of the situation that a large number of populations are illiterate and unskilled. Sustainable development, poverty alleviation and reduction of regional disparities in view of the existing subsistence agriculture based economy, lack of alternatives, and disparities among different region and communities. Enhancing gender and social equity regarding access to quality basic education Enhancement of the quality of education in view of the still underdeveloped educational provisions at all levels particularly at the primary and secondary level. Developing literacy education for adults functional to poverty alleviation Higher education in the areas of applied science and technology. Meeting the appropriate learning and life skills needs of all young people and adults to enable them socially and economically.

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The national policies and the plans are implemented through a system of schools, higher education institutions and the universities as well as nonformal education classes. The following is a brief description of the institutional arrangements. Education structure and institutional arrangements The structure of educational provisions in Nepal basically consists of the following arrangements: Normal Age Below 6 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 in Years Education Pre-primary/ Primary Lower Secondary Level ECD Secondary Source: Ministry of Education (2000). 16 17 18 19 Higher Sec. 20 21 22

Higher Education (University)

Pre-primary: The concepts and practices regarding Early Childhood Development and Pre-primary education are emerging as important developments, but they are still not part of the formal national education structure. Children are not given any orientation or preparation for natural disaster.


Primary education: Primary education or the first level of education in Nepal comprises of five years of schooling. Most of the children enrol to the primary schools directly when they reach 6 years of age. The minimum entry age for this level is 6 years. At this level topics on rain, landslide, soil erosion, earthquake are introduced. But these inclusions are descriptive only and do not have any curriculum regarding preparedness or safety measures. Secondary education: The second official level of education is secondary level which comprises of grades six to ten (five years). Grades six, seven and eight are called lower secondary level and grades 9-10 are secondary level. Science is included as one of the core subject from grade 6 to 10. A national level centralised examination is conducted at the grade ten. This examination is popularly known as School Leaving Certificate (SLC) Examination. Earthquake, landslide and soil erosion are included in the geology and astronomy section of the curriculum. Forest, forest depletions and community forest management are included in environment section. There is a section on water that list water borne diseases. However they are in general descriptive form and do not address the recurring situation in the country. There is no unit or focus regarding preparedness for possible hazard or safety measures. Higher secondary education (general) or PCL education: Those who pass School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination at the end of grade 10 can apply to Proficiency Certificate Level (PCL) of university campuses or to higher secondary schools, grade 11 operating under the Higher Secondary Education Council and Board. Higher Secondary Education is recent development in Nepal, since 1994 only. Except in the Biology in science stream and geography in humanities and social science stream there is no course addressing the recurring hazards in the country. Technical Education and Vocational Training: There is also provision of higher secondary level technical education under the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT). Currently, the technical schools affiliated to the CTEVT offer skill training courses either to tenth grade1 pass students or to those having Technical School Leaving Certificate. The technical and vocational education is offered through the nine CTEVT constituent trade schools and 118 private technical training institutes. The institutions under this system do not address the disaster conditions of the country except the medical courses that are useful indirectly. Tertiary Education: There are currently five universities in Nepal. Tribhuvan University (TU) is unique among the five in the sense that it was the first university in the country started about 45 years ago as a teaching and affiliating university. It has constituent institutions and campuses all over the country. Almost 95% of the higher education students as well as the faculties are with this university. University Grants Commission (UGC) co-ordinates the Universities with the national plans and programmes. Tribhuvan University has been providing PCL the first level of University education is PCL. After university based PCL or grade 12 under HSEB students are eligible to apply for 3 years Bachelor's Degree courses. The Bachelor Degree courses in technical institutes like Engineering and Medicine are of four-year's duration. The Master’s Degree follows the Bachelor’s Degree and is of two-year duration. General education is provided under the arrangement of faculties where as science is provided under Institute of Science and
Tenth grade pass students are academically lower level than those who have passed the School Leaving Certificate examination. Students take sent-up examination at the end of grade ten and those who pass the examination become eligible to take the SLC examination.


Technology, Institute of Engineering. There are institutions for studies in Forestry and Agriculture as well. Higher education curriculum like in the case of school education also do not specifically deal with the natural disasters in Nepal. Rather they are in general terms and are not oriented towards hazard preparedness or safety mechanism. Nonformal education: Besides the formal education there are provisions of Nonformal education at basic and primary level education. Out of school youths who could not attend primary school and are of overage can enter into third grade provided they complete a 9-month course of a non-formal primary education program--popularly known as OSP (Out-of-school program). There are also provisions for flexible school programmes for those who could not join regular hour schools and school out-reach programme for those who do not have access to regular school. Various forms of adult education programmes, mainly adult literacy and functional education are run by various agencies. Although there is emphasis on life skill education in NFE provisions, special focus on disaster preparedness in life skill education is still lacking. The following section discusses school curriculum at primary and secondary level and how they could be linked to disaster preparedness. Curriculum Provisions Purpose of education After 1990s new National Education Commissions and high level task force have been constituted to review the current status of education in Nepal and draw new directions to meet the needs and aspirations in the changed contexts. Most of the recommendations of these commissions and the task force emphasised on the needs to make school education mindful and responsive to ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ the needs of the children for physical, social, moral, cognitive and aesthetic development of the children the multi-linguistic and multi-culture environment of Nepal the needs of developing democratic and humane approach in contents and practices the need of preparing children to be realistic, rational, critical, reflective and responsive to the lived realities and to the world developments the need of developing the culture of work creativity and co-operation the need to recognise and value the national heritage and

Based on the commission report as well as several research reports, comprehensive approaches were taken to bring changes in school education. This includes, Master Plan for Basic and Primary Education, Education for All National Plan of Action, and Prospective Vision Plan for Secondary Level Education. These plans have emphasised on the need for improving quality of school education and to make it relevant to life. Objectives of school education The following are the stated objectives of school education: •To make students literate with the ability to read and write and do basic computation and develop the habit of healthy living (Primary Education)


•To prepare self-reliant citizens with respect to dignity of labour, loyal to the nation, and democracy, awareness of environmental protection, strong moral character and respect for culture and social values and norms and to prepare students with necessary knowledge and skills for higher secondary education (Secondary Education) •To produce skilled human resources with capable of making solid contribution to all round development of the country and to impart them basic knowledge required for receiving graduate level education (Higher Secondary Education) •To promote the intellectual development of students and prepare capable human resource and competent citizens needed for the development of the country. (Higher Education) (Source: CDC, MOES, HMG, Nepal 2000) Obviously, there is scope and need for revising the objectives to include a focus on the natural conditions of Nepal, natural disasters and how to cope with them and live with a sense of security and confidence. Course contents The following course framework has been in use towards achieving the objectives at the primary and secondary school levels: The curriculum frame work 2049 for primary education in terms course-hours per week (Annual minimum 30 weeks) Grades Subjects 1 2 Nepali 10 10 Math 8 8 English Social and Environmental Education including 6 6 health education Physical Education 4 4 Creative and expressive skill 3 3 Environmental science and health education* --Social studies --Optional (Language/others) 3 3 of subject areas and the

3 10 8 6 4 3 --3

4 8 6 5 -3 3 6 5 3

5 8 6 5 -3 3 6 5 3

Environmental education at grades 1-3 are integrated in the social science and health and sanitation. At grade 4 and 5 it is presented as environmental science and health education. Topic of natural disaster is included from grade 4 onwards. The current curriculum frame work for secondary education in terms of subject areas and the course-hours per week (Annual minimum 30 weeks) Grades Subjects 6-8 9-10 Nepali 5 5 Math 6 5 English 6 5 Science 5 5 Health and Physical Education 3 --


Population and Environmental Education 3 Health, Population and Environment Education -Social studies 5 Sanskrit 3 Art or Pre-vocational Education 3 st Optional 1 paper -nd Optional 2 paper -Total39

-4 5 --5 5 39

These curriculum frames refer to the report of the National Commission constituted in 1992 (2049 BS). As seen from the tables, science is included as separate subjects from secondary level. In Science there are classical subjects like physics, chemistry, biology, geology and astrology. Natural disaster subjects are included in respective subject areas. For example, earthquake and landslide are included in geology and astronomy. Water, landslide, water borne diseases, forest fires are included in Environment Education. The diseases are also contained in the health and physical education. All these inclusions are descriptive in nature. In Summary: Status School curriculum has sections on natural disasters at primary and secondary level integrated in different subjects. There is no courses and practices in school regarding education for disaster preparedness. There is no teacher preparation addressed to this subject area. Instructional materials are yet to be developed and used. Framework Formal education can integrate education for natural hazards preparedness at Primary and Secondary level. At tertiary level it cn be integrated as specialisation and/or research. Nonformal can address training/orientation for adult through literacy classes, and CLCs activities. Other ministries, NGOs, and relevant organisations can be mobilised to provide various short-term programs and preparation activities. They can also work as professional and resource support. Some Guidelines Education for disaster preparedness could be integration in the courses at school level. The practical parts could be delivered as co-curricular and extra curricular activities. EFA: Life Skill education is important focus area of the national education program where it could be adjusted to provide awareness programs and drills. CLCs, Literacy classes and OSP infrastructures could be mobilized for delivering such programs. There is however a need and scope for formation of a National Coordination body.

SOME EFFORTS AND LESSONS LEARNED There have been some efforts to bring awareness regarding the need to prepare for possible natural disasters. The efforts came particularly in the recent time when international organisations like UN and various specialised organisations pressed for

national effort to address the natural disasters in a systematic ways. Inclusion of the subject topics like natural disaster relates to such awareness. The following are some of the ongoing efforts at various levels by different organisations. Efforts of Nepal Scout and Nepal Red Cross and NGOs Some spontaneous efforts are undertaken by other organizations --e.g, Nepal Scout, Nepal Red Cross, NGOs in response to disasters that have happened. Efforts of Nepal Scouts and Red Cross are more relevant in terms of preparation for hazards. They have regular programs that focus on rescue, basic health and management of relief. However, the efforts are very small in terms of school numbers as well as number of children involved. Some local community based organisations, NGOs as well as local bodies like the Municipality and Village Development Committees have also organised programs to prepare youth for hazards. However such programs in the past were undertaken as a response to big events and after the events. There is lack of system and mechanism to continually address the need. Efforts of CERID All through development of school education in Nepal, there have been on going tension between the aspiration for better results in the examination so that children get better opportunity for higher education and locally relevant education that address contextual reality of the country including recurrent natural hazards. To address the issue relevance CERID started a forum of educators and teachers. Short-term teacher training, on the development and use of local themes and issues have been conducted. The forum could be mobilised to address the needs or education for natural disaster preparedness. Besides, the provisions for making formal education relevant, there have been efforts of developing supplementary programmes for school children as well as separate programmes for youths. Some of the major works in this direction include school based Eco Club and Science and Environmental Education Forum. School Based Eco Club: Eco-clubs were initially started by WWF (World Wild Life Fund), Nepal in the schools of buffer zones between community settlements and the wild life reserves or national parks. The idea was focused to help understand the importance of wild life conservation and to reconcile the community and the wild life conservation program interests. CERID in collaboration with WWF expanded the idea to propagate to other schools for the purpose of environment education in general. Students and teachers in schools are organised in the form of clubs to undertake environmental education activities. The activities are conducted in participating schools which are limited. There is still a need to develop resource support as well as support mechanism for the expansion of the Eco Club in other schools. Eco clubs are potential for taking up the education for natural disaster preparedness in a practical and effective way. Science and Environmental Education Forum: Science and Environmental Education Forum has been formed in 2001 and has been meeting regularly to discuss on various topical issues to plan for collaborative activities and to initiate interesting programmes. The major partners in the Forum include Curriculum Development Centre, International


Organisations like IUCN, WWF, Nepal Heritage Society, Schools, Universities and Professionals. CERID is providing both institutional support as well as leadership to the forum. This forum has been instrumental in ensuring regular programmes like school based science fare and camps, STL campaigns, short-term teacher training, material development workshops etc. There is high scope for initiating pilot activities for education for natural disaster preparedness.

Challenges Challenges of Changing the Curriculum Practice The socio-economic contexts of the schools have been quite challenging in bringing substantial change in the quality of education. In the contexts that existed and continues even today, teaching and learning is synonymously understood as reading and memorisation of the texts. Texts are traditionally considered sacred guide to follow. Development of education in Nepal including education on natural disaster is heavily influenced by these contexts. Textbooks are centrally produced and distributed. Examinations are conducted to check the knowledge acquired from the texts. In this contexts the majority are forced to discontinue education without much benefit. The other dimension of the challenge relates to the socio-cultural background of the children. The objectives of the school science education require that students are required to think rationally and objectively. The social knowledge, on the other hand, encompasses beliefs which goes beyond logical rational. It would not make rational sense if one believes that disasters are caused by divine force and that there is little a person can do to avoid the destined fate. This issue has to be taken seriously because a large section of the adult population is still illiterate. Also it has to be taken into the account that most schools have not been able to follow the objectives as perceived in the curriculum, teaching and learning in most cases amounted to reading the texts and memorisation for examinations. Lack of Resources and Infrastructure Most of the schools lacked resources, appropriate set up as well as trained and qualified teachers to take even the existing courses in a practical and meaningful way. There is no provision for school based practical activities because of the lack of basic facilities including a classrooms, equipment and even a system for secured storing and safe keeping. Even basic things like transportation, communication, stationery, and basic equipment are lacking in many schools. The overwhelming presence of the problems and the continued inertia of the existing situation tended to eventually absorb the reforms. Obviously there is still a need for an effective strategy. Summary
Integration of Natural Disaster subject is done at the school level, however it is not working in a

practical way as anticipated because the schools and teachers are not prepared. There is no teacher training program to address this and there is no school support system to address this.


Observations as well as analyses show that subject areas are mostly traditional, integrating topics like disaster is not simple. Classes are used to traditional subjects through lecture, book reading, writing answers, or homework. There is no experiences regarding disaster preparedness except watching videos. The actual involvement in the disaster situation is based on intuition and common sense only. There is disarrays and confusion in unprepared response, feel need for drilled preparation.

RECOMMENDATIONS Education for Disaster Preparedness should be linked to the lived reality of the children, to their geographical and environmental reality. It should be responsive to their social and economic background and the beliefs they come with. For this there is a need to bridge the school curriculum with the community. Education on natural disaster preparedness should be made practical with interesting activities like, simulation, practical work, experiments, student initiated explorations. There should be clear curriculum policy limiting the scope of examination in the curriculum practices. School time plan should be flexible and integrative to allow different learning activities possible within the regular school hours. There should be support system to develop and sustain education for natural disaster preparedness. The most important thing the need for capacity enhancement of the teachers, curriculum developers and the school managers. Some specific recommendations: There is a need to incorporate contents on recurrent disasters in Nepal and basic precaution as well as basic preparedness in the circumstances. The content areas should specifically include „ Landslide precaution and preparedness „ Flood precaution and preparedness „ Fire precaution and preparedness „ Epidemic precaution and preparedness „ Earthquake precautions and preparedness These courses should be practical based and should have emphasis on hands on activities and drill. Basic first aid; swimming, endurance strategies for difficult circumstances should be included. Education for immediate addressing and long-term strategy/planning should be included. Effective advocacy Media could be mobilised to bring awareness and propagate basic information. Special advocacy programs could be organised for mobilising schools. Communities could be

mobilised to discuss on natural disaster and how to cope disaster situation. School groups such as Eco-club, Junior Red Cross and Scouts could be developed and mobilised to undertake advocacy activities. Material and mode Posters, pictures and videos are important materials to develop. Formation and mobilisation of demonstration Mobile Team is a good strategy in the case of other teacher training programs. This strategy could be used for education for disaster preparedness as well. Local talk programs/ panel discussions (Involving school and community) is another potential strategy for the education for disaster preparedness. Capacity building Capacity building is most important aspect for successful undertaking of education for disaster preparedness. There are different strategies that can work effectively in the contexts of Nepal. This includes formation and mobilisation of Professional club, developing Refresher Teacher Training package to be listed in the regular teacher training scheme, and Trainers package development. There school support through Resource Centres. Secondary Education Development Units (SEDUs) developed attached to existing secondary schools in strategic locations across the country could be mobilized to work as the centres of professional support as well as teacher training for natural disaster preparedness. Networking National and international linkages are important for creating pool of information as well as supporting environment for development and undertaking of education for natural disaster preparedness. For this following formation are important: - National Forum - Core body consisting of professionals and educators at national level - Network with concerned bodies, national and international - Collaborative programs and exchanges - e-group Some potential national institutions: • • • • • • • Department of Geology Mining department, Government Ministry of Environment and Disaster Management Ministry of education (DOE; NCED; CDC; DEC) Institute of Engineering Department of Irrigation Kathmandu University; Disaster management References


1. CDC, MOES, HMG/Nepal (2057 B.S.). Primary Level School Curriculum. Kathmandu: The Author 2. CDC, MOES, HMG/Nepal (2055 B.S.). National Curriculum Framework. Kathmandu: The Author 3. CDC, MOES, HMG/Nepal (2055 B. S.). Secondary Level School Curriculum. Kathmandu: The Author 4. DOE, MOES, HMG/Nepal (2004). School Education Statistics 2004. Kathmandu: The Author 5. ICIMOD (2005). The Annual Report 2005. Kathmandu: The Author 6. JEMC, HMG/Nepal (2061 B. S). Textbook of Primary Science Grade 4 - 5. Kathmandu: The Author 7. JEMC, HMG/Nepal (2061 B. S). Textbook of Secondary Science Grade 6-10. Kathmandu: The Author 8. NSET-Nepal (2002). Protection of Educational Building Against EARTHQUAKES: A Mannual for Designers and Builders. Kathmandu: The Author


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