Education is the most important preparedness tool, says Toshitaka Katada, a civil engineering professor at Gunma University. He proves his point by pointing to the education program that helped save the lives of nearly all 3,000 elementary and junior high school students in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture during the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
This week, The Japan Times, reported on Katada’s insightful program, it’s astounding results, and what we might learn from his approach.
“In general, people don’t evacuate even though they know they should. It’s natural to be reluctant to escape when everybody else is staying put,” Katada told the Japan Times. “So I told the students that they must be brave and be the first ones to evacuate. If you do, others will follow you and you can save their lives, too. That’s exactly what happened.”
Katada says he believes children must be educated to be proactive responders and that by educating children, preparedness becomes infused into the culture.
“In two decades, those children will be parents. If they grow up to be adults who know how to act, their children will act accordingly,” he said, “I believe it’s our responsibility to nurture such an environment for the generations to come.”
From Drive Issue #68