Disaster prevention literacies: Assessing the knowledge, skills and attitude of Taiwanese students for an earthquake disaster, pp. 2 of 7

This research paper therefore aims to explore if students in elementary school are in possession of the necessary knowledge about earthquakes, as well as the skills to act and respond appropriately. Questionnaires and interviews were used with 30 students at Rui-Gan Primary School, New Taipei City, Taiwan. The findings consider how Taiwan schools educate young generations with not just knowledge about earthquakes, but with the skills and attitudes to respond to a real emergency (Chen & Lee, 2012).

Literature review

Disaster prevention literacy

The evaluation of disaster prevention literacy helps researchers have a better understanding of the outcomes of disaster education. The core assessment of disaster prevention literacy encompasses three broad categories: knowledge, attitude, and skills (Chen & Lee, 2012). The first category, knowledge, assesses students’ ability to understand and identify the characteristics of disaster and learn the key values of disaster prevention. For instance, if students recognise the power and impacts of earthquakes, they will build better awareness of the ways to mitigate the impact of the disaster and the ways to respond to it (Panić, Kovačević, Miljanović,  2012).

For countries where the threat of earthquakes is real and may happen any time, mere knowledge about earthquake prevention is extremely insufficient (Izadkhah & Hosseini, 2005). Citizens may be knowledgeable and passionate about the subject and may even excel when assessed about earthquakes in high stakes examinations conducted in school. However, what benefit would the possession of earthquake knowledge bring about if they are not able to apply theory to practice and do not possess the necessary skills to fend for themselves when a real earthquake arrives? As a result, equipping the young with skills is equally as crucial as the teaching of knowledge. Skills refer to the people’s know-how to respond correctly when the disaster strikes (Izadkhah & Hosseini, 2005). Different from the process of learning knowledge, skills cannot be merely taught within the classroom or through textbooks. Rather, students must be put through drills (Sharpe, 2009). A drill should be conducted in a school setting, so students can immediately know how to respond when they feel the earth shaking; for instance, to crouch under desks or any sturdy furniture, or to run to an open field where there is an absence of any nearby trees or buildings to safeguard themselves from any falling projectiles caused by the earthquake tremors.

Attitude is the final, but equally important, domain in the overall building of a person’s level of emergency preparedness. Attitude refers to the possession of strong values in citizens such as their “sensitivity to the disaster,” their “willingness to learn more about the disaster” and their “willingness to upgrade their skills” so that they can respond better in future for the well-being of themselves and their community (Panić, Kovačević, Miljanović,  2012). It is clear that the achievement of disaster prevention preparedness is all-encompassing such that it requires people to be equipped with knowledge, skills and attitudes to respond to disaster. It is also important to note that disaster prevention preparedness is not formed naturally but must be nurtured (Izadkhah & Hosseini, 2005). This effectively highlights the important role education plays in offering the young relevant disaster prevention education. The need to equip the young with disaster prevention literacies is especially urgent for earthquake prone countries.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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