Vanadzor town of Lori Marz, Armenia is located amid a picturesque landscape of hills, mountains and forests, but is also prone to various disaster risks as earthquake and fire. Disaster is a serious disruption of the community, and, to reduce its vulnerability, the community must be equipped with knowledge and skills on disaster risk reduction.
One of main activities of Strengthening Resilience through Child-centered DRR in the South Caucasus project funded by European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) is mainstreaming disaster risk reduction courses into school education. Within the framework of the project Save the Children and National Institute of Education (NIE) organized a 4-day training of trainers for preschool and school teachers from targeted 45 inclusive schools and 10 kindergartens. Among them were teachers from Vanadzor Secondary School N 28 "Vidrogenya". The ToT not only delivered new knowledge, but also helped these teachers to share experiences, learn from each other about new methods, and work as one team.
Vanadzor Secondary School N 28 "Vidrogenya" is one out of 45 inclusive schools targeted by IDRR Project. The school was built in 1991 by Ukrainian humanitarian aid workers after the earthquake, for which reasons it is called "Vidrogenya" – a Ukrainian word that means "rebirth." There are 376 pupils with and without disabilities (21 students with special needs) and a faculty of 58 teachers in the school.
“Everyone knows how difficult it is to find time in a “packed” school curricula,” said Lilit Antonyan, a participant of ToT on Inclusive DRR, Child Protection in Emergencies and Psychological First Aid, who is the master teacher of one of the classes in N 28 "Vidrogenya". “But these ToT helped us to understand how to combine ordinary classes with DRR lessons and include the topic into our daily working plan at school”.
An example was Mrs. Antonyan’s lesson during which 2nd grade children learnt how to identify and assess the risk of fire. “It is very essential to be aware of the safety regulations on disaster risk reduction and teach children about them”, stated Mrs. Antonyan. “There is an increasing evidence that children of all ages are able to actively learn and participate in school safety measures, and also work with teachers and other adults in the community towards minimizing risk before, during and after a disaster”.
The school has already organized several drills. "It was so exciting. We went all-out hand in hand, and it felt real even if it was just a drill," said 6 years old Davit. To our question what he has learnt during the “Fire” class, his answer was that he would never play with matches and in case of fire call 911. “Now I know that I want to be a fireman”, said Davit so proudly. “They help people”.