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2011年12月10日 (土)

防災教育 自ら危機回避できる力育もう

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 10, 2011)
Nurture children's ability to avoid danger on their own
防災教育 自ら危機回避できる力育もう(12月9日付・読売社説)

Japan is one of the nations most frequently hit by natural disasters.

It is imperative that children are taught in their daily lives how to respond effectively when an emergency strikes.

The details of what children should be taught, however, have so far been left up to individual schools.

The Great East Japan Earthquake claimed the lives of 550 children, ranging from kindergartners to high school students.

Reflecting on this, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry plans to work out a set of nationwide guidelines spelling out how to make children more capable of avoiding danger by themselves.

We urge the ministry to responsibly provide specifics in intelligible, concrete terms.

The example set by children in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, has been a beacon.


'Miracle of Kamaishi'

Although Kamaishi was struck by the catastrophic tsunami on March 11, the great majority of the 3,000 primary and middle school students in the city fled to safety and were physically unhurt.

Many children decided on their own that it would be risky to take shelter at designated evacuation sites, and instead made a beeline for higher ground to escape the oncoming tsunami.

For the last seven years, schools in Kamaishi have taught their students the basics of evacuation by inviting experts in disaster management as advisers to speak to the children.

The golden rules drilled into the children were "Don't trust assumptions about disasters" and "Put yourself first and flee."

The schools also incorporated content about disasters in each subject.
One question in a mathematics class on velocity asked students to think about the speed at which a tsunami would reach the coast.

The accumulation of these efforts resulted in the students swiftly evacuating in what has widely been referred to as "the miracle of Kamaishi."

Other ingenious methods have been employed elsewhere.

In some places, children heard from elderly local people who experienced massive earthquakes in the past, while others drew antidisaster maps highlighting vulnerable areas by examining geographical features of their neighborhood.

Some school athletic meets included bucket relay races and contests to build makeshift stretchers.

These antidisaster education activities, however, have been held only in some regions, rather than nationwide.

The education ministry and several local governments have introduced examples of antidisaster education on their websites.

They should provide more in-depth information online so their expertise can be shared with schools in every corner of the nation.


Don't leave kids home alone

Boosting teacher awareness about antidisaster education is also a key task.

The ministry is scheduled to hold antidisaster training courses this month and January for 220 supervisors from prefectural boards of education.

These supervisors will pass this information on to teachers.
It is of basic importance that every teacher acquire the skills to teach students how to stay safe in a disaster.

It will also become necessary to include antidisaster lessons in university courses for prospective teachers and courses for newly appointed educators.

After the March 11 disaster, many commuters were unable to go home because of disruptions to transportation networks in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Many children spent hours at home alone after returning from school, waiting for their parents to return.

The Tokyo metropolitan government has settled on a policy of, in principle, keeping children at school after a massive disaster until they can be given to their parents.

We hope parents and schools will together work out the rules governing when children should be picked up following a catastrophe.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 9, 2011)
(2011年12月9日01時15分  読売新聞)


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