Schools play crucial role in creating disaster resilient communities

|     Danial Norjidi     |

AN OPENING ceremony was held yesterday for a consultative meeting and workshop entitled ‘School-based Approach in Promoting Disaster Risk Management for Cultural Heritage’ at the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO) Regional Centre for Vocational and Technical Education and Training (Voctech).

Among those attending the opening were Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Brunei Darussalam Peter Wolff; Centre Director of SEAMEO SPAFA, Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts Dr M R Rujaya Abhakorn; and SEAMEO Voctech Centre Director Dr Haji Mohd Zamri bin Haji Sabli.

Dr Haji Mohd Zamri in his welcoming remarks said, “High appreciation to SEAMEO SPAFA for the relentless efforts in proposing this project to address the issue faced by Kampong Ayer – from the initial project on Fire Mitigation to become Disaster Risk Mitigation of Kampong Ayer.”

He also expressed appreciation to the SEAMEO Secretariat for having been very supportive of the initiative, as well as other SEAMEO Centres and partners who have been contributing to the project.

The SEAMEO Voctech Centre Director also thanked local partners, including the Department of Schools, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Awang Semaun Secondary School and others who have been contributing to the meeting and workshop.

Attendees during the event. – RAHWANI ZAHARI

“From the SEAMEO context, this initiative on Disaster Risk Management for Southeast Asian Cultural Heritage under Conservation in the Tropics Flagship Programme is in line with Seven Priority Areas (2015-2035),” he said.

“Priority Area No 3 on resiliency in the face of emergencies aims to raise the awareness of school communities in cultural heritage conservation in time of peril from both natural hazards as well as human induced actions.

“In this region, it is evident that schools play a crucial role in creating disaster resilient communities as well as in connecting children to the conservation of cultural heritage relating to schools in particular,” he said.

He noted that some schools are located in the cultural heritage sites or in the vicinity of them. Others schools comprise heritage buildings. In addition, some schools own invaluable collections of antiques, archives or art objects.

“Therefore, this project is to figure out the appropriate ways that can engage school children, teachers and staff, parents and communities to participate in mitigation measures to reduce the impact from disaster to their cultural heritage.”

He noted that Kampong Ayer’s recorded history goes back to at least 1,300 years. Kampong Ayer is culturally and historically the most famous, as well as the largest, water settlement in the Southeast Asian region. It was historically the very core of Brunei and one of the most important centres of trade in Borneo.

“This project will build the fundamental understanding and awareness of the community including teachers and students in their cultural heritage as well as the necessity to protect it from disasters,” he said.

“SEAMEO Voctech is happy to collaborate with SEAMEO SPAFA and other centres to tackle the issue of disaster risk mitigation for cultural heritage such as Kampong Ayer,” he added.

Concluding, he expressed his hope that the one-day consultative meeting and two-day workshop will run successfully and bring about positive impacts to the Kampong Ayer community and the country overall.