HYDERABAD: With the floods having struck Sindh consecutively for two years, it might be a good idea to teach students about floods and its causes, protective measures, relief and rehabilitation in schools.
The Aga Khan University Institute for Education Development (AKU-IED) organised an event called Save Pakistan from Floods, to encourage the science teachers of Sindh to teach their students about floods. Professional Teachers Association Network (PTAN) and Science Association of Pakistan (SAP) also collaborated with AKU-IED.
The teachers made cardboard models to demonstrate issues ranging from their causes to recommendations about dealing with the aftermath of floods. Others used power point, posters and charts to explain their suggestions.
According to Naheed Anwar of AKU-IED, the purpose of the event was to engage the science teachers in inquiry and research so that they could impart the knowledge to their students. “Although the subjects of flood and natural calamities are dealt with in science and social science subjects but the teachers are unable to relate the content with the recurring catastrophes,” she observed. A teacher from Dawood Memorial School in Tando Allah Yar, Fareeda Syed, made a cardboard model of villages hit by the floods last year. Her model demonstrated how the low-lying areas were vulnerable. She said that people built homes in these areas without giving a thought to the fact that it was flood plain and prone to getting inundated whenever the water level in the river rose. “Ignorance in the people about town planning, drainage and the general civic issues allowed the municipal and irrigation authorities to grow lazy,” she said. Her model recommended teaching the students town planning and civics subjects.
Farkhanda Rajput, who teaches in Himayatul Islam School, proposed constructing reservoirs and new canals in the province to store the water which spilled over from the rivers and canals for irrigation. With the help of maps, cardboard models of reservoirs and printed recommendations, she explained that another canal should be taken out from Jamrau Canal of Sanghar for irrigating the Thar Desert. “Given that Tharparkar is the world’s only fertile desert we need to use this opportunity bestowed upon us by nature,” she remarked. According to her model, the canal should end in Nangarparkar and it should be able to provide enough water for cultivating fields for at least three months.
Other scientific presentations studied the causes of floods, how the government’s negligence exacerbated the calamity, haphazard rescue and relief arrangements, lack of long-term planning for rehabilitation of people, businesses and agriculture.
Ahmed Rajput of Aga Khan School in Ameenabad, Hyderabad district, advocated greater financial assistance for humanitarian organisations working for providing relief to the flood-affected people. He believed that the government departments were ill equipped to respond effectively to disasters. For his presentation he had surveyed the work of different humanitarian organisations and he explained their performance with the help of newspaper clippings and charts.
According to Samia Ali of Government Girls High School in Hyderabad, the simplest and most cost effective way of preventing climatic disasters was planting more trees. “They are a natural defence against the raging waters.”
In contrast, Sahar Afshan, of Reflections School in Karachi, floated solutions like aquadams, aquafences and waterbags for lining the river and canal embankments. Even though they are expensive enough for a third world country, but she insisted that they be used sparsely where the flow of water was low.
Even though the teachers touched upon a plethora of flood-related issues but overlooked the problem of educating children in the affected areas.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2012.