Children to be taught about tsunamis
The Nation, Published on January 18, 2005

The Education Ministry has begun preparing material to teach students what they need to know about tsunamis as well as what they can do to protect themselves in the event of future natural disasters.

The syllabuses are expected to be ready for the May 2005 school semester, said Pornipa Limpapayom, secretary-general of the Fundamental Education Commission (FEC).

Pornipa said that the syllabuses would touch on tsunamis as well as other natural disasters and would focus on how students could protect themselves if they ever found themselves in such dangerous situations.

The introduction of this material was prompted by last months tsunami disaster. While existing syllabuses did mention tsunamis from a scientific perspective, they did not provide practical survival tips, such as telling people to seek higher ground in the event of one, she said.

Schools will now be called on to provide more detailed instruction as to how tsunamis occur, and what signs point to a coming tsunami, she said, as well as including survival tips and similar information about other natural disasters.

The content and format of the material would differ according to the grade level. At the elementary level, cartoon illustrations may be used, while at higher levels more intensive teaching may be required.

The Science and Technology Ministry might choose to include information and illustrations from overseas sources into syllabuses prepared for higher levels of study, Pornipa added.

The FEC plans to open a tsunami operation centre on the third floor of the former General Education Department building. At the moment the FEC does not have an estimate of the total damage done to schools by the tsunami, or an assessment of what the FEC can do to aid in the reconstruction. The FEC will seek an assessment of these damages to properly disperse funds to schools in affected areas.

Students who lost one or both parents in the tsunami will be able to apply for additional aid, as will students whose parents were left financially strapped because of the disaster. Family members of teachers who died in the disaster will receive Bt100,000 in compensation each. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra recently called on state agencies to come up with a clear assessment of tsunami damages so that aid could be made available.