School Safety Improved with the Support of EU and UNICEF
Partners advocate for expansion of risk-informed planning and policy making for greater resilience in local communities
YEREVAN, 1 August 2017 – UNICEF, the EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) department, and the Ministry of Emergency Situations marked the end of DIPECHO IV project by highlighting the key results.
Policy-makers, schools and parents can now track the level of emergency preparedness and better understand the vulnerabilities of their schools through the schools safety module (safe.schoolnet.am), introduced within the School Information Management System at the Ministry of Education’s National Center for Education Development. The portal shows a variety of detailed information on public schools across the country, which can help communities to identify priorities areas that need further work in order to improve the safety of children.
Using the school safety module, partners updated the ranking of all public schools in Armenia based on their level of seismic and other hazard vulnerability in collaboration with Ministries of Territorial Administration and Education and Science. About 80 percent of public school buildings are still ranked as medium to highly vulnerable and need immediate attention to ensure safe learning conditions for children.
To improve teaching about disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness in hazard-prone areas, UNICEF and partners developed a number of interactive learning materials, incorporating the use of technologies (among which GIS tools, OpenStreetMap, GPS) and supported schools in Ashtarak and Stepanavan cities to incorporate these in the curriculum. Over 200 school principals from Yerevan, Aragatsotn, Armavir, Ararat, Kotayk and Vayots Dzor marzes were trained in school disaster management to be better positioned to assess and respond to their schools’ vulnerabilities.
UNICEF also worked to develop and test a unified approach to community disaster risk management and emergency response planning that is child-sensitive and integrates the needs of vulnerable groups within the communities. The existing Local Level Risk Management methodology (LLRM) was refined to integrate an emphasis on children’s needs and was tested in Khashtarak, Getahovit and Yenokavan villages of Tavush marz. The communities and marz representatives learned how to use the methodology and planning tools to respond to children’s needs at the local level.
The methodology combines a participatory assessment process with the analysis of existing scientific information on hazards and community exposure to help communities strengthen local development planning with the consideration of available risks.
From 2016 to 2017, partners have worked in collaboration with Ministries of Education and Science and Territorial Administration, and other local stakeholders to improve disaster risk management and emergency preparedness in communities and nationally.
Based on the accumulated experience and the developed tools and methodologies, partners hope that more communities will be able to do risk-informed planning, more schools will be equipped with risk reduction and emergency preparedness and teaching, while national policy making will prioritize school safety.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.