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Children in Montenegrin schools learning about reducing the risk from disasters

PODGORICA, MARCH 13, 2013 – Bureau of Education and the Ministry of Interior - Division for Emergency Situations and Civil Security, in cooperation with UNICEF, are implementing a project titled “Emergency Preparedness, Response and Disaster Risk Reduction in Montenegro”. The goal of the project is to provide necessary knowledge to pupils, students and teachers and offer explanations on how to act in order to reduce the impact of natural disasters.
‘’Disasters are really on the rise globally, there is a lot more risk nowadays than it used to be which means that more people are affected by disasters. Risk reduction is about being prepared for the disaster, about reducing risks, reducing vulnerability before the disaster could strike,’’ said Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) specialist at UNICEF CEE/CIS Lisa Guppy.

Within this project, which is financed by USAID – OFDA and supported by UNICEF, more than 80 municipal employees, community representatives, NGO staff and school authorities will participate in a number of ‘Children and DRR’ workshops to create general awareness on the needs of reducing risks from fire, earthquakes and floods with the focus on school safety.
‘’Emergency situations in Montenegro are most often related to earthquakes, landslides, floods, snow avalanches, fires and other natural disasters. The aim of the education for response to emergency situations is for the students to learn about certain contents and develop necessary skills for adequate response in emergency situations,’’ said Deputy Director of Montenegrin Bureau of Education Radoslav Milosevic Atos.

Students from Primary School in Ulcinj completing the DRR questionaire

Research done on a sample of 250 students and parents showed that the readiness of schools to respond to natural disasters is very low and that it is necessary for students and teachers to learn more about natural disasters, and how to reduce the risks of disasters.
"Unfortunately, if we know that the education system currently has no topics or subjects that deal with emergency situations and if we know that in this way we have a problem regarding education of children and citizens on proper actions and behaviour in emergency situations, and on the other hand, we have emergencies caused by different types of hazards over the last few years, it is clear why I want to express my gratitude to the Sector for Emergency Situations for being part of this project,’’ said Acting Deputy Minister for Emergency Situations Ljuban Tmusic.

In five selected pilot schools in Ulcinj, Berane, Bar, Kotor and Podgorica non-structural and structural vulnerability risk assessments and Action plans will be prepared by group of experts and in close cooperation and participation of children, teachers and parents. The work on preparation of school programme on DRR was initiated upon research conducted among pupils and teachers about their knowledge and practices in regard to natural hazards and ability to react in schools.

 ‘’We have a very limited knowledge on natural disasters, my peers do not pay too much attention about this topic, but when something like this really happens, everyone will be panicking,’’ said Anja Radonjic, student of Primary School ‘’Savo Ilic’’ in Kotor.
‘’If both teachers and students are educated and they know exactly what to do in certain situations, I am sure there will be less panic and less problems,’’ said Ljiljana Adzic, Pedagogue and Psychologist at Primary School ‘’Savo Ilic’’ in Kotor.

This project represents UNICEF’s first engagement in DRR in Montenegro and it is addressing major natural hazards risk and emergency preparedness response and disaster risk reduction in education sector.
At the beginning of the project series of workshops were organised at national and regional level with representatives of Ministries, institutions, schools and local communities discussing about the significance of DRR, reducing risks of natural disasters and what needs to be done for DRR to become part of national and local communities agenda. 

Representatives of Ministries, institutions, schools and local communities discussing about the significance of DRR

‘’Focusing primarily on education sector, this programme is enhancing national policies and capacities to better implement and integrate elements of risk reduction within existing education curricula, teacher training and day-to-day  management of schools,’’ UNICEF Montenegro Representative Benjamin Perks explained.

In September 2012 UNICEF and the US Government decided to support Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Moldova in a programme to implement Disaster Risk reduction in schools in line with the aspirations of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA). The HFA is a 10-year plan to make the world safer from natural hazards. It was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2005 World Disaster Reduction Conference.



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