Disaster prevention literacies: Assessing the knowledge, skills and attitude of Taiwanese students for an earthquake disaster, pp. 3 of 7

Disaster prevention education in Taiwan

Since Taiwan is highly susceptible to the real threat of earthquakes, disaster prevention is taught in schools, following the introduction of the improved MOE’s disaster prevention literacy framework. The main goal is to improve citizens’ disaster prevention preparedness through school curricula.

In schools, in addition to teaching disaster preparedness, such as “what is an earthquake,” “what are the tell-tale signs of an earthquake,” and “what does an earthquake feel like,” it is strongly believed that desirable attitudes towards disaster prevention must be nurtured. Therefore, teachers conduct character building activities in order to develop positive mind sets about preparedness. Such efforts include developing the willingness to continuously upgrade their skills in order to better prepare for the occurrence of a future disaster. Furthermore, school teachers combine the three categories and help students achieve disaster recognition. For instance, teachers ask students to recall major earthquakes that happened in Taiwan so that they can better relate to the information found in the textbook. Students have earthquake emergency drills at least twice per semester, according to MOE’s regulation, to help prepare them for when an earthquake strikes. These practices are good for the engagement of students in “preparedness activities” and “response activities” (Chen & Lee, 2012). Through the development of ‘disaster prevention skills,’ citizens will be better equipped with the aptitude to respond to a real disaster.


This study selected Rui-Gan Elementary School in New Taipei City as the study site since it is located in the mountainous area that is likely to have a landslide when an earthquake strikes. 30 students from P1 to P6 were randomly selected to fill in a questionnaire. The questionnaire was constructed by following the framework of disaster prevention literacy for effectiveness assessment and divided into three sections: knowledge, skills and attitude respectively to assess participants on each of these competencies (Figure 1). Each section has either multiple choice questions or short essay questions. Section 1 focuses on the assessment of students’ disaster prevention knowledge in relation to earthquakes. Two questions in this section are designed to assess students’ ability to recognize earthquakes and students’ awareness of the potential impacts of an earthquake. Section 2 focuses on students’ disaster prevention skills to act and respond appropriately to a real earthquake emergency. Two multiple choice questions in this section are to see if students are sensitive to earthquake tremors and know how to respond under an earthquake situation where they are in a classroom or at home without any adult supervision. Section 3 focuses on citizens’ attitudes towards the occurrence of earthquakes and their personal development in terms of improving their skills for a future threat. Questions in this section focus on citizens’ level of sensitivity to earthquakes experienced and attitudes toward their personal development in terms of improving their skills for a future disaster.


Students’ knowledge

In the knowledge section, when students were asked how many earthquakes they felt in the past year, the number of responses was between 1 and 30. Moreover, what was also observed is that the older participants (11-12 year olds) felt more earthquakes (e.g. 20-30 earthquakes) than younger participants. Older participants, due to their relatively more mature age, would have experienced more earthquakes and education about the phenomenon in their lifespan (Izadkhah & Hosseini, 2005). They might have a better understanding that in Taiwan, earthquakes occur very frequently, approximately 2200 times a year and of which, approximately 214 can be felt (Tsai & Chen, 2010). This understanding may have motivated them to put larger approximate numbers even though they did not necessarily recall the exact number of earthquakes they have felt over the past one year. Therefore, the assumption made earlier that all Taiwanese citizens will be able to state a number above zero, given that much emphasis has been put into the school curricula to equip them with disaster recognition knowledge, is true. Hence, the hypothesis that any Taiwanese citizen who has at least elementary school education, is in possession of some knowledge about earthquakes, is valid (Chen & Lee, 2012).

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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