Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) is pursuing the second version of its ‘Safe School’ programme for the academic year 2015-2016, for the purpose of educating school students and staff on how to deal with earthquakes.

During the first semester of the current academic year, the program served 10,304 trainees from 18 schools, including 8,565 students of different stages of education and 1,739 teachers, administrative staff, and supervisors. As such, the total number of beneficiaries from 2013 till 2015 hits 29,022 people from 49 schools across the country.

QRCS is planning to expand the program’s scope to cover more schools, in pursuit of the strategy of community capacity building in the field of preparedness, as a national priority of Qatar National Vision 2030.

Funded and implemented by QRCS in coordination with the managements of the host schools, the program is conducted every Sunday at a different Supreme Education Council (SEC) school, applying an all-day theoretical and practical training scheme with two breaks.

As part of the training, scientific materials are distributed to the students, such as the ‘Prepared Child’ booklet, which is sponsored by Oryx GTL.

By the end of the day, a simulated evacuation scenario is implemented by all students, teachers, and administrative staff, who assemble at the predefined assembly points, under the supervision of QRCS Risk Reduction Team members.

The objectives of the programme are 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, such as first aid and social psychological support for the victims of earthquakes.

Moreover, it raises awareness of the importance of environment protection among schoolchildren, teachers, administrative staff, bus supervisors, and even parents (through the students themselves), urging them to adopt safe behaviour as a lifestyle and feel a 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.

More than 90% of schools have shown interest in applying for the programme, which reflects the positive impression created by the programme. During 2015-2016, the programme is planned to visit 37 schools — compared to the originally expected 25 schools.

Many schools that have already received the training are applying again, to enhance the existing skills and include the newcomers. Some others requested remapping due to relocation. All of that is strong evidence of extraordinary success.

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