Introduction to Manual
This manual comprehensively explores the impact of natural disasters on students. While the capstone provides a general account of the issue, it later focuses on the country of Saudi Arabia. The information takes a clear look at different natural disasters and categorize them by their regions. Yet, one of the arguments is that a natural disaster can occur anywhere and part of the goal of a government is to prepare citizens for a “just in case”.
There are different scenarios that play out in this project. The focal point of the research is the goal in making sure children are safe. While academically educational organizations focus on making sure students are receiving a quality education, this project takes the idea of school responsibilities on a different path. The role of safety and school preparedness is explored in this project. The discussion on Saudi Arabia is eye-opening, but does provide some insight on why developing countries are still finding ways to rectify issues like school-preparedness. There is a compare and contrast between the United States and Saudi Arabia. The comparison exposes vulnerabilities that Americans encountered during recent catastrophes in the past 20 years.
For this manual the writer includes a detailed and categorized approach to how important it is to include future research on school preparedness. The discussion, conclusions, recommendations and implications lead to a continued conversation on school safety and why in the 21st century students are not protected in practical ways. The greater goal of this project is to hold school and government officials accountable for ensuring the safety of their students. Projects of this nature are making a difference in the world, and children are the reason why.
This report serves to focus on the country of Saudi Arabia and how they handle school preparedness when it comes to natural disasters. Saudi Arabia is a developing country. The researcher argues that more needs to be done in making sure children are protected in a developing society when disaster happens. Some of the disasters explored in the discussion include fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and terrorism attacks. The researcher believes that while there is promise of rectifying this issue, more future research needs to be done. In the exploration of the topic the author found that there are vulnerabilities in many schools in cities across the country of Saudi Arabia. The goal is to bring awareness to government and school officials in order to make children safer during catastrophic events. The author includes a detailed account of how to engage the country of Saudi Arabia in ensuring safety for their students.
The country of Saudi Arabia is a primary focus for this research. Due to this country’s geographical location, it is prone to natural disasters. The goal is to ensure that students are prepared in an area that is prone to geographical disasters. These can be natural disasters as well as illnesses and other catastrophes for schools in Saudi Arabia. There has not been a lot research done on this subject, as most studies focus on areas such as the United States. However, it is important in a globalized world to ensure that preparedness is not just restricted to more modernized countries but developing ones as well. Experts believe that most Saudi Arabia schools are not prepared to deal with natural disasters. This include private and public schools (Momabi, & Salmi, 2012).
In the past ten years there have been efforts to assist Saudi Arabia with disaster preparation for their schools. Lebovits (2006) provides an account of overseas missions by concerned researchers. A group of students from Hudson high in Boston were among 24 students who went on a mission to help bring disaster preparation awareness to countries like Saudi Arabia. These kinds of efforts are needed in order to bring more awareness in preparation for disasters. School zones are believed to be safe in certain parts of the world. For instance in the United States, schools were built in order to sustain natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes. Many of these schools are used as shelters in times of disasters. The difference between the United States and underdeveloped or developing countries is the need to put forth proactive plans in plans when it comes to forecasting catastrophic events.
A stronger emphasis has been on Saudi Arabia due to its recent wave of natural disasters. In recent years the country has experienced dust storms, flooding, and many parts of the country are exposed to earthquakes and volcanic eruption (Alshehri, Rezgui & Li 2013). The country’s response has caused concern from the public. In Alsheri & Rezgui 7 Li’s (2013) study a survey conducted to receive responses on their public perception of how the citizens of the country believe the government were handling natural disasters. While most believe that natural disasters were a punishment from God, they still believed the government should be prepared. This is an interesting dynamic. Though it is looked up as a punishment, there still needs to be preparation in dealing with the disasters. This is especially true for children who are essentially innocent victims.
Even acts as fire drills are instrumental in making sure that if a fire breaks out there is less panic and there is order in place. However, studies show that a lot of schools in Saudi Arabia are in need of training and basic education when it comes to preparing for fires. During a fire in Jeddah in 2011, the non-practice of fire drills were exposed (Bashraheel, 2009). According to the findings, due to the ill-prepared nature of the school when it comes to fire, there were injuries sustained in a rush of students and faculty trying to flee the school. Experts note that the rush to escape with no orderly system is more dangerous than fires. This kind of action is in its own sense uncalled for. Reports further state that the many schools lack fire detectors, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers (Bashraheel, 2009). Hence, why efforts are being made to make changes to avoid these situations.
Situations like the fire that occurred in Jeddah reflect on government officials as well. In moments of devastation that exposes the weaknesses in protecting children, government officials are in a position to ensure parents and citizens that policies will be implemented to change things. Then the blame gam tends to happen. When this fire debacle happened, one official was quoted as saying, “We can't ensure how strictly the schools are implementing the evacuation plans. Our duty is to give them instructions, and the school's administrator's duty is to make sure that evacuation process is put into the school's system with regular drills and practice” (cite in Al-Jassem, 2011, para. 10).
While Saudi Arabia has not been as susceptible to natural disasters as other countries have, within the past 10 years the country has seen more than usual events take place. Of course the terror attacks cannot go ignored as a natural or catastrophic disaster. Asheri and Rezgui’s (2013) state, “given its geo-political situation, the country has suffered from several terrorist attacks including the 1979 Makkah mosque siege, the 1995 Riyadh bombing, the1996 Khobar bombing, and the 2003 Riyadh bombing” (p. 1815). Schools and children are not exempt when it comes to terror attacks. Furthermore, if this can happen in well-developed and technological countries like the United States and England, it can surely happed in developing countries like Saudi Arabia.
In January of 2002 a cyclone impacted Saudi Arabia. This was in conjunction with widespread rainfall. This occurrence was a phenomena, as one has never happed since natural disasters have been recorded. The country was not prepared for a cyclone and failed at meeting post-disaster needs (Chakraborty, Mujumdar, Behera, Ohba, & Yamagata (2006). This kind of event is further proof that preparing for these kinds of natural disasters is imminent. There is no predicting mother nature when these phenomena happen. Loertscher (2015) says interests in the way to prepare is always good planning. Therefore, a level of interest needs to be raised in order to begin the planning stages.
Consequently, there have been concerted efforts in addressing this issue of Saudi Arabia and other middle-eastern countries not being prepared for disasters. In the Mecca area there have been recent studies that have attempted to explore this issue and offer concrete solutions on dealing with the problem. According to Momani & Salmi (2012) “In the Mecca region to deal with the threat of earthquakes through the identification of the preparedness of school buildings, the differences in the willingness of schools, and examine the relationship between the exposure to previous crises and readiness for future crises” (p. 463). This study offers effective strategies in overcoming the problem of lack of preparedness in schools for disasters such as earthquakes.
Identifying the preparedness of schools is a good strategy in ensuring that they are equipped to deal with natural disasters like earthquakes. Building codes should be up to par, and there should be set guidelines in place just in case an earthquake happens. Since earthquakes do happen and are not rare occurrences researchers find that making sure schools are equipped to protect students is important. Officials in Saudi Arabia remind the public that all schools need to have a permit with the Civil Defense. With this permit comes training from guards. However, research also shows that so many schools lack the tools promised by the Civil Defense (Bashraheel, 2009). Government officials need to be rigid in their expectations of school preparedness.
Another important part of this research dedicated to ensuring students are safe in the guise of earthquakes is knowing the difference between the willingness of schools. While it is a popular belief that all schools should be prepared for these circumstances, not all are willing to prepare their officials and students for a natural disaster. This is an issue that needs to be taken up on a government level. Schools should be up to code and sanctioned if they’re not. There needs to be a surveyor to assess the way in which schools are staying in compliance with prepared relief efforts. These assessments should take place at least twice a school year. It would be a step towards the right direction for the sake of the children. There are some plan in place in making sure this happens. According to Al-Jassem (2011) there are plans in place in some cities to send observers to schools in order to observe such important practices as fire drills.
The exposure to previous crises should have an impact on how countries prepare for others. For example when Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast in the United States, the entire country came together in order to work through the disaster. Organizations like FEMA were set in place to prepare for other crises just in case something of this magnitude were to happen again. The United States assessed Hurricane Katrina as a lesson learned. The uthikable can happen and it did happen in one of the most powerful countries in the world. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Saudi Arabia in most cases. Research surmises “Despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has vivid memories of fires that had caused damage in Jeddah, Makkah, Riyadh and Dammam, people still don't know how to react in emergencies, especially in schools, hospitals, malls, and even companies, a top Civil Defense official said” (Al-Jassem, 2009, para. 1). The lack of awareness and responses is a disaster within itself.
It is evident that the country of Saudi Arabia needs more improvement practices and implementations when it comes to the safety of children. After reviewing some of the incidents where natural disaster has struck, the government in Saudi Arabia needs to revisit certain policies and hold government and school officials responsible when the policies are not being adhered to. The fire that injured children in Jeddah was a result of negligence on school officials not protecting children. These kinds of disasters are inevitable, yet the goal is to make sure in handling these situations panic does not set in. Natural disaster preparedness should be handled in a decent order. Momani & Salmi (2012) believe that “It is important to know whether or not the government adopts, or tries to implement, earthquake mitigation measures in order to eliminate or reduce the long-term risk to people and property from earthquake hazards and their impacts” (p. 470). This same sentiment should be true for other disasters as well. The government and school officials are not working together to ensure that the proper channels are being taken to ensure the safety of children in these disasters. No child should suffer a fatality or become injured as a result of the school being ill-prepared during disasters.
It is a shared notion among researchers that not enough is being done to curtail unnecessary incidents due to not having a system in place to avoid tragedy that can erupt in natural disasters. During a flood in Saudi Arabia there were 121 casualties and billions of dollars in damage. This disaster forced Saudi officials to deal with changing public policy related to these kinds of unfortunate occurrences (Alshehri, Rezgui & Li., 2013). Nonetheless, even something of this magnitude may have to happen in order to save future lives.
The United States has shown that through trial and area situations are learned from. In the wake of catastrophic events like 9/11 in New York city and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, both which included a number of deaths and devastations. Well, the country did not allow this and other catastrophes to stop them from progressing. What it did was made them aware of the vulnerabilities in the infrastructure and forced government officials to put policies in place to ensure protection of citizens.
It is recommended that the Audi Arabia government find effective ways in making sure policies are reinforced through by school and government officials when it comes to natural disasters. The core concern here is children and their safety. It is up to everyone to work together in making this come to fruition. Schools should be equipped with the necessary precautions. Being in disasters is one thing, but to have fatalities and causalities due to incompetence and negligence resulted from lack of pre-caution matters is a different matter. It is further recommended that future research is done on this issue. Future research can lead to innovative strategies in reinforcing security measures in schools. Technology needs to be used in these circumstances. The use of technology can circumvent aging infrastructures. Brining schools up to code where they can become shelters and safe havens in times of catastrophes is also something that is recommended. Momani & Salmi (2012) believe that:
“It is important to prepare a public emergency plan for disasters and crises and to train school administrators and teachers to prepare contingency plans for disaster management in school. Finally, we need to prepare disasters awareness programs benefiting from public and private media, internet, and workshops through utilizing experiences of other developed countries in disasters and crises management especially for schools.” (p.463)
Public emergency plan and others like it can get the public involved in curbing this issue. It is important to be proactive and not reactive at the time of disaster. Being reactive is what leads to panic as it did in the fire that caused harm to children in Jeddah because there was no real plan in place to protect them in escaping the fire. In addition to a public emergency plan, the researchers suggest that awareness program benefitting public and private schools is needed moving forward. Even though public and private schools educate differently when it comes to academics, they should not be separate from different or lack of policies when it comes to disaster efforts. In the case of Saudi Arabia, both public and private schools need an overhaul of polies for preparation of disasters.
Finally, as articulated in the conclusion and research, there needs to be workshops available to make Saudi Arabian officials aware of how other developing and developed countries have handled relief efforts in preparation of catastrophic circumstances. There needs to be money allocated towards this plight of disaster preparedness in schools. This would be money well spent. Consulting with government officials from countries like Japan and the United States would help educate officials on where to begin with these policies. There are signs that Saudi Arabia is willing to partner with other countries in order to assist in their disaster reliefs. This was illustrated in 2010 when Pakistan needed help assisting flood victims (Saudi Arabia to set up, 2010).
The implications suggested in this research are clear. Saudi Arabia is responsible for the safety of their citizens in times of disaster. This is especially true for children who depend on adults to be leaders and take and treat their safety with the utmost importance. If business are coming together in order to assess how to prepare for natural disasters then certainly educational organizations can as well. Business risks are increasing due to natural and made occurrences, so they are creating ways to avoid capital loss (Momani & Fadil, 2013). School-based coping programs are also vital in ensuring the mental health of students after disaster strikes. Therefore, the implication should not stop in preparation for a disaster, but also the preparation of the after effects (Kim, Kang, S. & Kang, K & 2014).
The point of this study is to bring awareness to issues that impact children on a global level. Ensuring the safety of children should be a universal concern. Researchers work tirelessly in creating ways to not only male citizens aware of the devastation of natural disasters, but they collaborate to conjure up solutions to the problem. The implication for future studies is rather positive. Experts are willing to work together to inform officials that waiting until a disaster happens is not strategizing. The strategy happens beforehand in order to decrease the risk of casualties and fatalities. Even in the even that lives are loss because of unforeseen and controllable events, they should never be loss because the government whose primary job is to protect failed to do so.
It is safe to say that Saudi officials are making efforts in exploring new policies plans in proactivity when it comes to the protection of school children in natural disasters. This should be commendable and implies that it is not that the officials do not care, they need support as well as a developing country in order to help fund and explore ways of protecting the children.
Al-Jassem, D. (2011, Nov 20). 'More evacuation training, preparedness needed'. McClatchy - Tribune Business News
Alshehri, S. A., Rezgui, Y., & Li, H. (2013). Public perception of the risk of disasters in a developing economy: The case of Saudi Arabia. Natural Hazards, 65(3), 1813-1830.
Bashraheel, L. (2009, Jun 18). 'Schools need to raise safety awareness'. McClatchy - Tribune Business News
Chakraborty, A., Mujumdar, M., Behera, S. K., Ohba, R., & Yamagata, T. (2006). A cyclone over saudi Arabia on 5 January 2002: A case study. Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, 93(1-2), 115-122. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00703-005-0183-2
Kim, S., Kang, S., L., S., & Kang, K. (2014). The effect of coping knowledge on emergency preparedness in elementary school students. The Journal of School Nursing, 30(5), 349-57. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177
Lebovits, S.C. (2006, Aug 13). People: Teens explore post disaster world. Boston Globe.
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Momani, N. M., & Salmi, A. (2012). Preparedness of schools in the province of Jeddah to deal with earthquakes risks. Disaster Prevention and Management, 21(4), 463-473.
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