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Schools to get safety framework from March

The Pakistan School Safety Framework, which was being pre-tested as a pilot programme in 68 schools, would be finalised in March, according to an official document.

“The pilot programme will be concluded by February 15, 2017 and its findings will contribute towards finalisation of the framework in March 2017,” the document said. The pilot programme was launched in 68 schools both in public and private sectors across Pakistan as well as Azad Jammu Kashmir.

The framework, being finalised by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with the UNICEF Pakistan, would help promote a safe learning environment for teachers, students and school staff against natural and man-made hazards. Besides, it would ensure preparedness of the school community against hazards and enable schools to develop a comprehensive response mechanism against any disaster.

The framework would also sensitise all stakeholders about their respective responsibilities in school safety and ensure children’s participation in building school safety and implementing risk reduction. It would define all the elements of the school safety in the context of Pakistan and determine realistic standards for the adoption of meaningful disaster risk reduction measures.

Under the framework, the component of the school safety included safety of the infrastructure, physical security of the school premises, fire safety, environmental safety and the psycho-social safety within a school. The framework encompasses laying down of minimum safety standards for all categories of schools (primary, middle and secondary), formulation of safety organisations and the safety plans, awareness and preparedness measures.

It also defines a comprehensive evaluation system to determine the safety standards by school itself and second party evaluation by an integrated team of the district education department, provincial building department and police to determine the overall safety standards, on annual basis. The pilot activity involved training of teachers (designated as school safety officers) and training of the district evaluation team members.

The selected schools will prepare respective school safety plans, carry out self assessment of respective schools for the safety standards and will be subjected to evaluation by the district teams. The activity is being done with the technical expertise of NDMA British Council and the UNICEF, while keeping on board all provincial and private school management.

The framework will be made part of the National Education Policy, besides recommendations would be made to give the framework a shape of a legislation as a much need subject of importance in the wake of past experiences/future challenges for a safe generation.

Certified training of the school safety officers, principals, teachers, and the district evaluation officers will be pursued utilising the existing Teacher Training Centres in each province.

APP. Schools to get safety framework from March. Daily Times, January 20, 2017.

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