Disaster management, it seems, is not in the priority list of Indore government schools. If any disaster strikes the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh, hundreds of government schools would find themselves caught on the wrong foot because of lack of disaster management plans, putting the lives of thousands of students and teachers at risk.
Even district education officer Sanjay Goyal accepted that there is a need of more practical demonstration in government schools. “We used to organise awareness programmes at our own, but it is the board of secondary education that is responsible to add chapters and organise demos in schools,” he said.
While disaster management is hardly taught in the schools, there are no preparedness plans in case of any eventuality. None of the government schools, that HT contacted, had any fire-fighting measures or other plans to combat disaster.
“We will definitely issue guidelines to schools. It is a matter of children’s safety and also teachers and principals themselves will be at risk. We will ask schools to comply with recommendations. For all the new schools that we are making, I will ensure that there is a sound plan in place,” said Goyal.
“It is mandatory for every CBSE school to teach disaster management for Classes 8, 9 and 10 along with social science. The CBSE also prepares a plan that chalks out an evacuation and emergency plan in case of any major eventuality, such as fire, earthquake, accidents,” said Prestige Public School principal Prakash Choudhary.
According to the provision, the school disaster management plan should aim to identify and manage manmade and natural calamities hazards, prepare and respond to emergencies and to mitigate the effect of disasters, said Choudhary.
The CBSE curriculum schools have to identify the vulnerabilities of the school that includes revisiting the history of disasters that have affected the school, establishment of an annual calendar to take account of cyclical hazards that must be dealt with on an ongoing basis and mapping the main physical features around the school.
However, things are somewhat better in private run schools.
“We have fire- extinguishers at every vulnerable point, be it at reception or kitchen and buses,” said Abha Johari, principal of Shri Devi Ahilya Sishu Vihar.
Indore Loha Vyapari Association (ILVA) School principal Sanjay Mishra said along with disaster management, the school teaches student traffic rules as it’s also came under disaster management. “Along with disaster management, we ask students to make projects and reports on the disaster management.”
Forget disaster management, some schools don’t even have medicines for students. “In private schools, despite a court order, there is no doctor or nurse to tend to children in case of an accident or ailment,” alleged a parent who wished not to be quoted.