Disaster prevention literacies: Assessing the knowledge, skills and attitude of Taiwanese students for an earthquake disaster, pp. 6 of 7

Aside from wanting to learn various combinations of the above four factors, amongst those who expressed “Yes,” some added that they would like to learn “how to put out fires during an earthquake” and “rescue those who are stranded in buildings.” Such intentions are likely to be based on participants’ understanding that there is bound to be a time-lag before emergency authorities and rescue operations arrive at the emergency scene, where in most cases, the damage done by the disaster would have already escalated and many lives would be lost. The onus is therefore on the citizens to help one another while waiting for the arrival of the authorities (Chen & Lee, 2012). The results imply that students have a positive attitude towards the natural disaster because sensitivity towards disaster prevention has formed a critical component of the school curricula and helps students improve their preparedness for a future disaster.

Conclusion

At present, the occurrences of earthquakes are still unpredictable. In Taiwan, earthquakes are a serious problem. The country faces approximately 2200 earthquakes a year, of which, about 214 can be felt and some lead to catastrophic consequences for the population and the areas where they live and work (Tsai & Chen, 2010). The 921 earthquake that took place on 21 September 1999 is one such example. The number of deaths and those injured during earthquakes can significantly be minimised if people are equipped with proper preparedness measures (Panić, Kovačević, Miljanović,  2012). Hence, a population that is prepared with the necessary know-how stands a better chance to survive the disaster. This paper adopts a holistic manner encompassing knowledge about earthquakes, skills to respond appropriately to improve people’s preparedness when the disaster strikes, and attitudes toward the occurrence of earthquakes in terms of their willingness to prepare themselves for disaster in future.

In Taiwan, schools play an important role in fostering in citizens the various disaster prevention literacies. Apart from equipping citizens with knowledge about earthquakes, citizens are also nurtured with skills to act and respond to an earthquake and develop positive attitudes about disaster prevention (Chen & Lee, 2012). Skills are commonly taught to students through earthquake drills conducted in school at least twice a semester (Sharpe, 2009). Positive attitudes are imparted in students through character building activities during which they are nurtured to develop positive habits such as thinking about the earthquake after it has occurred and their willingness to prepare themselves for the occurrence of the disaster in future. Findings in this research reflect that young Taiwanese students are being trained to learn the necessary knowledge about earthquakes, and skills to act and respond appropriately when the disaster strikes from at least elementary school education. They also learn how to keep a positive attitude towards the occurrence of earthquakes and their personal development in terms of improving their skills for disaster in future. Compared to other earthquake prone areas of the world, the development of preparedness in Taiwan does not only focus on teaching the formation and natural processes of disasters through textbooks but also seeks to equip students with the appropriate basic skills to respond appropriately to natural disaster. As a result, disaster education in Taiwan can be used as a model for those areas where preparedness for an earthquake is still problematic.

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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