HEMISPHERIC ACTION PLAN FOR VULNERABILITY REDUCTION IN
THE EDUCATION SECTOR TO SOCIO-NATURAL DISASTERS
Disasters are the result of processes of nature and society. Education and its influence on the behavior of different actors or agents in society are a determining factor in the creation of conditions of vulnerability and occasional disaster. The predominant cultural expressions generally move away form providing an adequate basis for achieving balance between the natural or physical environment and society. Only with fundamental changes and educational reforms can we advance in the creation and strengthening of a true culture of disaster prevention.
By monitoring the previous actions in the Education Sector and the Plan of Action of the Summit of Sustainable Development (Santa Cruz of the Sierra, Bolivia December 1996), a definite process began which lead to the preparation of a Hemispheric Plan of Action for the Reduction of the Vulnerability in the Education Sector to Disasters. This document is the result of a broad process of consultation and consensus-building that culminated in the Hemispheric Conference for the Mitigation of Risks of Socio-Natural Disasters in the Education Sector in Caracas, Venezuela from September 15 through the 17, 1997.
A Hemispheric Plan has been developed to present before the governmental and non- governmental agencies related to the education sector in each country. The proposed strategy is defined so that the education sector participates in the programs for reduction of socio-natural disasters.
The Hemispheric Plan identifies and promotes national, regional, and hemispheric mechanisms, in order to facilitate the commitment to carry out the agreed upon activities, through programs for advisory, training, technological transfer, and investment.
The Hemispheric Plan serves as back-up for acquiring political, institutional, technical, and financial support for:
The Hemispheric Plan is made up of National and Regional Plans; specific activities of organizations, institutions, and national, regional and international agencies working individually and collectively in order to strengthen a vision of integrated and complementary actions.
The Hemispheric Plan tries to strengthen the creation and implementation of actions related to Regional Plans, National Plans, and specific activities.
The Hemispheric Plan complements existing actions as well as identifies deficiencies, proposes and actions, and encourages their implementation.
At the same time, the Hemispheric Plan serves as an instrument and process to bring the Education Sector the political, economic and institutional support necessary to execute the proposed actions.
The Hemispheric Plan is implemented in the national and regional contexts where the proposed actions are under way, respecting and strengthening the role of the Education Sector.
The participants in the Hemispheric Plan promote it by:
International, regional and national agencies, as well as their networks and associations with disaster reduction and environmental management programs in the education sector have contributed and helped prepare this document. The contributors include representatives of several countries in the following agencies:
The Hemispheric Plan is divided into three areas.
Includes strategies to incorporate academic program design in basic education, university education and professional programs in several disciplines, adapting the program according to the various types of vulnerability in each country.
Includes to be channeled through ministries of education and other institutions, to provide specific plans which will form part of specialized organization plans for bringing support to training and counseling, as well as to operational plans.
Includes strategies for the management and retrofitting of educational buildings according to natural hazard vulnerability to modify planning processes, design, construction and maintenance as a function of safety for these buildings.
The Hemispheric Plan has been formulated as a reference guide based on the experiences of the countries.
It is not an extensive or exhaustive document. Nor does it represent the programming of all works and actions necessary to reduce the impact of natural disasters on the education sector. However, the combination of objectives and activities attempt to resolve specific problems related to education and the development of the population.
The Hemispheric Plan is a work in progress. An Executive Committee Pro Tempore designated for its implementation should be brought together periodically in order to review, modify, update and to add to the Hemispheric Plan with the experiences that have been useful in practice and that are considered beneficial in the continuous search for solutions to the problems of the Education Sector.
It has been demonstrated that prevention and mitigation is the only way to protect students lives in educational buildings, as well as the lives of the general population. The most economical way of changing knowledge, attitudes, and behavior as they apply to prevention measures is through the educational systems.
Many technical and ministry level meetings of different sectors of society have emphasized the urgent need to teach the disaster component in the hemisphere.
The participants of the Hemispheric Conference held in Caracas on the Mitigation of Risks from Socio Natural Disasters in the Education Sector coming from all academic sectors request that all the national and international entities:
Considering the current trends in the management of the environment, with more emphasis when it plans to improve collectively and individually the quality of life and guarantee (to sustain) the socioeconomic development of present and future populations, it becomes necessary to radically change human practices and attitudes involved in the face of risks and socio-natural disasters. Otherwise these will irreversibly affect not only the natural environment, but also the sustainability of the communities involved and their respective qualities of life.
Accordingly, it is vital that articulation between risk management and environmental management, the quality of life and sustainability of the communities involved and their respective qualities of life and sustainability, be translated into the presence of a preventive culture in the community. (We understand the community and its interrelationship with the local government, private sector, organized community and how it functions in a coordinated manner with the central government.
The participants of the Hemispheric Conference held in Caracas on the Mitigation of Risks from Socio Natural Disasters in the Education Sector request that all national and international entities:
The physical infrastructure component tries to incorporate the concept of safety in light of socio-natural disasters when developing a building code regulations, project preparation, construction and the evaluation of the educational physical infrastructure.
This component includes strategies for retrofitting educational buildings in accordance with risks to natural hazards in such a way that the planning process, design, execution of projects, repair, re-structuring, conditioning, and maintenance relate to safety.
The design and execution of programs for vulnerability reduction to natural hazards in the educational infrastructure sector encompasses: policies, planning processes, investment projects and programs of emergency preparedness.
In order to achieve vulnerability reduction objectives in the infrastructure component of the education sector, activities have been proposed for the corresponding sub-areas of the physical infrastructure. These sub-areas are:
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