ECOWAS, NDMA & MBSSE Commence Training on Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction into Education
Family Kingdom Resort, Freetown, 14th August 2023 – The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), through its Directorate of Disaster Risk Reduction, in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) have commenced a three-day training for school teachers and educators on mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in Sierra Leone.
The overall objective of the training is to enhance the knowledge of school teachers and educators on disaster preparedness and recovery, and what can be done to promote integrating disaster risk reduction in the school curriculum considering the important role education plays in reducing vulnerability and building resilience.
The training will also focus on the importance of developing a culture of resilience at an early age and underline the important role schools and educators play to achieve a disaster-resilient society.
This will set the foundation for a clearer understanding of why benchmarking good practices on mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in education, particularly in primary and secondary education is a significant endeavour.
In October 2022, the NDMA in partnership with MBSSE developed and launched the teaching guidelines for school teachers, which have been included in the school curriculum, to introduce disaster management as a subject in schools, ensuring pupils understand the concept of disaster risk reduction, identifying and discussing early warning signs of potential hazards, and demonstrate actions to be taken before, during and after the occurrence of disasters.
The Resident Representative of ECOWAS in Sierra Leone, H.E Harouna Moussa, while delivering his statement said integrating disaster risk reduction into the education sector is a cost-effective measure to reduce the long-term impact of disasters and help prepare each new generation by institutionalizing disaster preparedness into the formal learning process.
“This training workshop on integrating disaster risk reduction into school curricula aims to build capacity and improve the knowledge and skills of teachers and educators on integrating disaster risk reduction and management into school curricula. It is in line with the implementation of the ECOWAS action plan, which includes in its priority areas the development of education, training, research, and technology programs on disasters.
He continued: “This pilot workshop initiated by the ECOWAS Commission provides an opportunity for national stakeholders to address how educational policies, planning, and programs can strengthen the resilience of children, youth, schools, communities, and the education system through comprehensive approaches to school safety and social cohesion.” He noted.
The Director General of NDMA, Lit. Gen. (Rtd) Brima Sesay welcomed the ECOWAS delegation and thanked them for providing support to the NDMA and MBSSE in fulfilling a major requirement by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction which is to mainstream the reduction of disaster management.
The DG further noted that the teaching guide for disaster risk reduction was first conceived in 2018 when the NDMA was a department in the Office of National Security (ONS). He said the department worked with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in setting up the standards for the dispensation of knowledge to some selected schools that were used in the experimentation of schools’ out-reached programs in disaster risk reduction.
The DG concluded that introducing disaster awareness and risk reduction education in the school curriculum would foster better understanding amongst the children and the teachers about the immediate environment in which they and their families live and would help to reduce the risk faced by the community.
The Deputy Minister 1 of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary School Education, Mrs Emilie Gogra said her ministry is committed to ensuring the implementation of the teaching guidelines across schools and encouraged the teachers present to take full advantage of the capacity-building training to enrich their knowledge in disaster management.
At the end of the training, the knowledge and skills of the teachers in basic disaster risk reduction management are expected to increase, integration of disaster risk reduction and management in school curricula particularly in primary and secondary education is as well increased, and children, youth and community participation in disaster reduction and management activities increased.