By Jeffrey Makala Ngaka
CAPE TOWN, 14 October 2011
- South Africa’s Western Cape Provincial Government announced this week that it was increasing the budget allocation for safe schools from Rand 19 million to Rand 21 million and is taking steps to incorporate disaster risk reduction into the school curriculum.
At the same time, over 40 schools were reportedly closed and hundreds of schoolchildren across South Africa’s Western Cape have been affected because of floods and snow in the Karoo. This underlines a key concern of over 600 children who contributed their views to the creation of the new Children’s Charter for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Education was the most commonly occurring theme and prioritized by all children during the consultations on the Children’s Charter.
In particular, children want access to information and training in disaster risk reduction, and they want disaster risk reduction and climate change to be included in the curriculum and for their schools to be safe and built on higher ground.
A child interviewed for the Charter said: “I felt unhappy when I saw the school destroyed by the storm. I did not go to school because the school was destroyed.”
South Africa’s National Disaster Management Framework calls for the integration of disaster risk reduction in primary and secondary schools curricula and an education tool kit will now be piloted in three schools in the Western Cape, it was announced this week in Cape Town at a three day event, “Making Cities Resilient: Cape Town is Getting Ready!”
Donald Grant, Minister of Education, Western Cape Provincial Government, said: “We need to educate our children about disasters whether in or out of school. As Education Minister, one of my priorities is to ensure a safe and secure environment for our children.”
The educational toolkit which includes books, videos and board games developed by the African Centre for Disaster Studies at the University of North West will be piloted in Observatory Junior, Helderkuin Primary and Hawston Primary schools.
The African Centre for Disaster Studies is also behind the GIRRL Project (Girls in Risk Reduction Leadership) which is exploring the contributions of marginalized adolescent girls from the Sonderwater informal settlement to disaster risk reduction and community resilience building.