Under the Slogan ‘Safe Behavior, Less Risk, and Effective Response,’ Qatar Red Crescent (QRC) launched the second version of its ‘Safe School’ programme for the academic year 2014-2015, with plans to expand its scope to encompass 25-30 schools throughout the country.

QRC Secretary-General, Saleh bin Ali Al-Mohannadi, said:

The project first emerged as an idea in May 2013. It involves several training courses for students over an entire school day to increase their awareness and ability to respond to earthquakes, fires, accidents, and other disasters. It also delivers educative lectures on the principles of first aid, psychological support, and road safety for administrative staff, teachers, and bus supervisors to ensure effective and quick response in case of emergency.’

Funded and implemented by QRC in coordination with the managements of the host schools, the programme is conducted every Sunday at a different Supreme Education Council (SEC) school, applying an all-day theoretical and practical training scheme with two breaks. In the end of the day, helpful booklets and fliers are distributed and a disaster simulation scenario is practiced to foster the knowledge and skills acquired during the theoretical part.

The purpose of the programme is to promote a culture of safe behaviour and societal risk management, in order to prevent, reduce, or properly deal with risks, by developing practical experience and skills among youngsters, teaching them general concepts of disaster risk reduction, and letting them practice emergency plans and evacuation rules very seriously as if they were facing a real disaster. This will help produce a whole generation of Qataris who have the highest level of disaster preparedness.

The programme syllabus also covers meaningful topics in relation to the safety and security of society members; raises awareness of the importance of environment protection among schoolchildren, teachers, administrative staff, bus supervisors, and even parents (through the students themselves); urges them to adopt safe behavior as a lifestyle; and deepens their sense of responsibility for themselves and for others.

The programme employs a progressive strategy that targets Qatar educational institutions to utilise schooling as a way of community education and creation of dynamic and broad-minded personalities, rather than a rigid, backward instructional system limited to theoretical textbooks that spread passiveness and inaction among students.

Al Mohannadi expressed his heartfelt thanks to Oryx GTL for sponsoring the publication of the ‘Prepared Child,’ a brochure distributed to school students with guidelines about what to do during an earthquake, presented by three cartoon characters. He said:

I invite all government bodies, NGOs, corporations, and everyone interested in social and charitable work to support this ambitious developmental programme, which serves the Qatari society and builds the capacity of future generations in safety, security, and risk reduction, in light of the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030, which has human development as one of its pillars.’

During 2013-2014, the programme was conducted successfully in 19 schools across the nation, benefiting 6,622 students of all educational stages (KG, primary, preparatory, and secondary), as well as 573 teachers, administrative staff, and bus supervisors.

Following the greater-than-expected success of the first ‘Safe School’ and the many schools applying for it and wanting it to continue, QRC proceeded with the new version on a larger scale, targeting more schools and students and assigning a bigger and more diverse team from QRC medical affairs, social development, volunteers, public relations, relief and development, and risk reduction.