Dehradun: SEEDS, a leading not-for-profit organization, has partnered with the Government of Uttarakhand and Honeywell India to introduce a pioneering school safety program in 100 Government schools across Dehradun and Haridwar.
First introduced in 50 Delhi government schools in 2017, the Honeywell Safe Schools program brings a tailor-made approach to address the unique safety-related issues of each school or location, involving structural assessment of schools by engineers and architects, evaluation of risk perception, and examination of preparedness in the face of any natural or manmade disaster. Thereafter, experts from SEEDS will work closely with children, schools, and communities to train them in disaster-preparedness and risk reduction. This is done through interactive sessions, mock drills, peer-to-peer learning, and structural and non-structural mitigation of risks.
Speaking at the Safety First Carnival organised by SEEDS, Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat, Honourable Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, said, “Children are our future citizens and it is our prerogative to provide them with a safe learning environment. This disaster risk reduction program resonates with our state government’s recent call to corporates and NGOs to take ownership of schools, and help improve the quality of infrastructure and education. We can ensure safety with the help of awareness. It is a proved significant tool towards the safety of children. It is important to make the stakeholders aware of their rights as well as information that can help them become risk prepared. We have planned to build wooden buildings for schools in Uttarakhand to save our children from hazards and risks; It will be economical as well.”
A baseline study conducted in Dehradun and Hardiwar by SEEDS helped identify infrastructure vulnerabilities, environmental risks, and day-to-day stresses faced by children. The study also sought to evaluate risk perceptions among children and parents. Per the study:
71% children walk to school unaccompanied
30% children fear animal attacks, which emerges as the highest perceived risk
25% fear road accidents
49% of children are at risk from landslides either on the commute to school or in the school compound
40% school buildings face high to very high structural risk and need urgent attention
66% schools do not have safety equipment such as fire extinguishers or call buttons
77% schools do not have emergency exits or signage pointing to emergency exits
The study showed that one-third of the children have not been exposed to any practical disaster response training, and this is the gap that the program seeks to fill.
Dr. Manu Gupta, Co-Founder, SEEDS said, “We are pleased to partner with the government of Uttarakhand to bring our program to Dehradun and Haridwar. The Honeywell Safe Schools program is built on SEEDS’ child-first approach towards risk reduction, empowering children to become change agents for building resilience in the communities.”
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Akshay Bellare, President, Honeywell India, said, “We are deeply invested in Uttarakhand with our strong presence, including a world-class state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, a 2.3-acre campus, and more than 250 employees creating world-class products for India and the world. Honeywell is a global leader in safety and security technologies; this program is a natural extension to bring our understanding of safety to the communities we serve.”
The program will empower 31,000 students, 45,000 parents and 700 teachers across 100 Government schools in Haridwar and Dehradun districts to be risk-ready.
The Honeywell Safe Schools program adheres to the National School Safety Policy (NSSP) Guidelines, 2016, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) guidelines, and the ASEAN School Safety Initiative. These frameworks define the essentials of school safety and the importance of building a safe environment for children.