Session: Safer Schools

The session of Arch.KIDs: Safer Schools focused on strengthening disaster risk reduction and resilience through education at schools. The aim was to explore children’s knowledge on different types of hazards and disasters; also how they conceptualized and visualized their schools to be safe in the face of all expected hazards and threats.

Students from Rajuk Uttara Model School and South Breeze School participated in the event held on July 24, 2017.

Workshop facilitators:

Dr. Huraera Jabeen
Sheikh Rubaiya Sultana
Manal Anis
Ayesha Khalil
S M Kaikobad

Pictures of the event

Arch.KIDS: Safer School

Reporting/features in the newspaper:

Are you prepared for earthquake or fire?

[ Huraera Jabeen ]

Lamia of Rajuk Uttara Model School didn’t know whether it was safe to run up to the roof or go down using lift from their 10th floor apartment during an earthquake in Dhaka last year. Nafey of South Breeze School saw the fire trucks while going to school but didn’t know how to contact them if there was any fire. Living in Dhaka, a city exposed to many natural and man-made hazards, children like Lamia and Nafey grow up without adequate knowledge of how to reduce their exposure to hazards and manage risks during disaster.

Arch.KIDs, an outreach program of the Department of Architecture, BRAC University aimed at raising awareness about built environment among the children, thought of Lamia and Nafey’s concern and organized a session “Safer School”. On July 24th, seventeen of their friends from two schools came to the department; students of Architecture welcomed and helped them in participating different fun filled activities on disaster preparedness.

Major Shakil, disaster and fire specialist at Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense, came wearing his bright orange uniform. He showed videos of what they do to keep people safe and gave the children many advise on do’s and don’ts to stay safe during earthquake and fire. Children practiced drop, cover and stay low for 60 seconds which Major Shakil said essential to do at the moment earthquake strikes. He gave the emergency number 02-9555555 to call when needed, also advised to plan ahead for disasters.

But how to prepare for disasters? Lamia, Nafey and their friends were given a challenge to draw a map of their school and make an emergency plan. They learnt about different signs like assembly point, fire exit, location of first aid and fire extinguisher, accordingly planned and marked them in the map to guide people. They planned the fastest way to go to a safe place in their school during any disaster. They also identified who will be the fire warden and put a sign with his/her name and where the students can find him/her. They took their bright coloured maps back to school to share their knowledge with friends.

Suddenly a fire alarm went on, Huraera Jabeen, the coordinator of the workshop, informed that there was a potential fire in the building and the children have to evacuate. Before that, they had to pick five most important things to pack in an emergency bag. One group of children put dry food, torch, phone, first aid box and tissue paper in the bag and ran up the fire stairs with others. The volunteers guided and ran with them; when they reached the assembly point one of the volunteers called their name to make sure everyone was safe. But it was a false alarm and everyone was relieved to go back to the room.

There was just enough time to meet Silly Timmy before going back to school. Silly Timmy is a comic character who always runs into disasters like lightening, earthquake, fire and even car accident. Timmy’s fairy friend gave advice on how to stay safe from all of those hazards and how to plan with family and friends before disaster strikes. Although the comic strips are written in English, the children translated some pages in Bangla and took them along to share with others.

The Chairperson Adnan Morshed, the Pro VC Ansar Ahmed, and the advisor Fuad Mallick came to see what the children were doing. The participants presented their plans to make their school safer. The guests were very happy and handed them certificates for participation and posed for a group photo.

The Arch.KIDs learnt that although adults have a responsibility to protect children but they have a powerful role to play as ‘agents of change’ in disaster preparedness that affect their lives and the development of the communities in which they live in.