School director pioneers safer learning for pupils

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Asia and Pacific

GENEVA - An innovative school director in northern Thailand has shown how his pupils can learn in safety with little additional financial cost and burden on staff.

The Director of Baiboonlamphun School, Mr Pachernwaat Srichai, said school safety was becoming more of a priority with parents demanding secure environments for their children.

‘’In the past it has been suggested that parents in developing economies are not as concerned about school safety as those in developed countries but that is not the case. Parents in Thailand consider the issue as critically important,’’ Mr Srichai said.

Baiboonlamphun School, which has 1,600 pupils, collaborated with Chiang Mai University to produce a new framework to help schools manage safety. Mr Srichai said the effort was inspired by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s (UNISDR) One Million Safe Schools and Hospitals Campaign.

‘’The initiative investigated how schools can share knowledge about safety with parents and among staff and teachers to raise awareness and increase the effectiveness of school safety,’’ Mr Srichai said.

‘’The key issue addressed relates to leadership in schools in terms of safety. Results have shown that school safety does not necessarily mean increased costs or less focus on the issue in other schools.

‘’It was also important to show schools by example how this could be done while keeping the burden on staff and costs as low as possible.’’

Mr Srichai said there were many challenges ahead including coordination of efforts and finances but he remained optimistic that safer learning environments would become more of a development priority.

The One Million Safe Schools and Hospitals Campaign aims to ‘’raise the awareness of primary stakeholders — children, teachers, parents, medical doctors, nurses, technicians, administrators, government and the public — on the urgency of making schools and hospitals safe from disasters, especially those located in hazard-prone regions’’. Baiboonlamphun School is one of more than 32,000 schools pledged for safety from disasters in Thailand under the One Million Safe Schools and Hospitals Campaign.

The importance of the issue was flagged in the High-Level Dialogue Communiqué of the 2013 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction which proposed the development of a “a global safe schools and safe health structures campaign in disaster-prone areas with voluntary funding and commitments to be announced at the World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction for 2015”.

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