Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Necessity of Disaster Response Education in Primary Schools throughout the World
Chikako Oshima / Auditor, Tsukuba University of Technology

August 5, 2021
In July, flooding centered in Germany and Belgium caused massive damage in Europe with more than 200 casualties. In Japan as well, July brought heavy rains causing debris avalanche and destroying more than 130 homes. This is also considered to be a man-made disaster caused by imprudent deforestation for development purposes. Every time I hear about natural disasters and the number of resultant victims, I think that disaster response education should be conducted in primary schools throughout the world.

In the United States, "Disaster Action Kid" is used as an educational program for children under the jurisdiction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It is a project-based learning discussion about what to do when a gunshot is heard or when a friend passes out. However, this program does not include responses to natural disasters.

In the UK, the Civil Contingencies Act establishes a clear division of disaster response roles. As an educational institution, the EPC (Emergency Planning College), under the jurisdiction of the CCS (Civil Contingencies Secretariat), was created as an independent institution, and has facilities that can provide crisis management education and training for local government employees.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001 and the flood of the Elbe River in 2002 marked a turning point for Germany and led to the formation of the BBK (Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance) in 2004. Currently, the agency is aiming to build a system able to respond to major disasters such as terrorism, cyber attacks and natural disasters regardless of the cause. For education and training in such areas as crisis management, AKNZ (Academy for Crisis Management, Emergency Planning and Civil Protection) has been established under the jurisdiction of the BBK. However, this is intended to provide programs to educate leaders and government administrators. 

While holding some seminars at a German university, I did a research on primary school education and queried about disaster response education for natural disasters. The response I got was that they failed to see the need for such education. I can see why the situation in Germany, with vast stretches of plains and no active volcano or no major earthquake in the past 100 years, is different from the situation in Japan, with all its volcanoes and active fault lines, where people experience earthquakes, tsunamis, and typhoons as regular occurrences.

China experiences flooding every year, and the number of evacuees already exceeds 200,000 this year. Like in Japan, there are natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons, storm surges, and tornadoes there, and they are aware of the need for disaster response education. After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, the Shanghai Board of Education sent out an urgent notice concerning "responding to natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes and ensuring the safety of primary and junior high school students" in keeping with national policy. This notice instructs each kindergarten, primary, and junior high school to actively incorporate evacuation and rescue training for accidents and disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and fires into regular educational and group activities.

Since their childhood, it is inculcated in the minds of the Japanese, including through education at home, to extinguish flames, protect their heads, and open doors or break windows for exit in case the house is tilted. My mother was born in the year of the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923) when Tokyo was devastated. She always said, "The greatest damage was caused not by the earthquake, but by the fires caused by people who happened to be cooking lunch. So make sure to extinguish the flame when an earthquake occurs."

It is said that the Japanese government started to seriously emphasize disaster response education at primary schools after the 1995 Hanshin-Kobe Earthquake. Currently, disaster response education is required in the curriculum. It aims to train pupils in lower grades to understand the danger of disasters lurking behind various aspects of everyday life, so that they can act safely and care about the safety of others. Pupils in upper grades are given more specific goals. They are taught at school so that they can decide and act appropriately based on sound thinking and good judgement when faced with disasters today or in the future, and also engage in activities conducive to the society around them. In Japan, emergency evacuation drills are held every year at companies and public facilities under the leadership of the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. Having fostered disaster response awareness from early childhood, people respond naturally and favorably to the call to join in.

We may well be hit by a "once in a 100 years" natural disaster tomorrow. It is vitally important to instill disaster awareness in the minds of citizens. I believe this task should be tackled at educational settings throughout the world, developed and developing alike.

Chikako Oshima is a former professor and president of Tsukuba Gakuin University
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

大島 愼子 / 筑波技術大学監事

2021年 8月 5日

アメリカでは連邦緊急事態管理庁FEMAの管轄下に子供向けの教育プログラムとして、A Disaster Action Kid がある。これは子供に問題解決型のテーマを与え、銃声を聞いた時や、友人が失神した時の対応を議論するが、自然災害に関しては触れていない。


ドイツでは2001 年 9 月11 日のアメリカの同時多発テロ事件、2002 年のエルベ川の大洪水といった出来事が転機となってBBK(連邦住民保護・防災支援庁)が2004年に設置された。現在では、同庁の下でテロ、サイバー攻撃、自然災害等の原因を問わず、大災害に対応できるような制度の構築を目指している。危機管理等の教育や訓練は BBKが所管するAKNZ(危機管理・災害時計画等に市民保護のためのアカデミー)が設置されている。しかしこれも指導者や行政官向けのプログラムの提供である。 


中国は毎年大洪水があり、今年もすでに20万人が避難している。日本と同様、地震、台風、高潮、竜巻などの自然災害があり、防災教育の必要性は自覚している。2008 年の四川大地震が発生した後に,上海市教育委員会は国の方針を受け,「洪水や地震等の自然災害を防止し小中学生の安全を確保する」といった趣旨の緊急通知を出した。これによると、各小中学校(幼稚園)は日常の教育活動や集団活動を利用し,地震,洪水,火災等の災害事故における避難救助訓練を積極的に展開することを指示している。


さて日本政府が本格的に小学校での防災教育を開始したのは、1995年の阪神神戸大震災がきっかけといわれている。現在は、学習指導要領で、防災教育が指定され、小学校低学年では、日常生活の様々な場面で発生する災害の危険を理解し、安全な行動ができるようにするとともに、他の人々の安全にも気配りできる児童を育成するとしている。 高学年になるとさらに具体的な目標が課せられ、現在及び将来に直面する災害に対して、的確な思考・判断に基づく適切な意思決定や行動選択ができると同時に 社会貢献活動ができるように学校教育で指導することとなっている。日本では、企業や公共施設で毎年、消防庁が主導して、緊急避難訓練が行われるが、これは子供の頃から防災意識が醸成されているので、皆が当然のように協力するのである。


一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Necessity of Disaster Response Education in Primary Schools throughout the World