Disaster management courses in Univs: State govt to reconsider
Kolkata: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has recommended study of disaster management in all its universities across the country.
Secretary of UGC P K Thakur has issued directives to Vice-Chancellors of all universities requesting them to consider compulsory courses on disaster management for all students which shall include bomb threat, earthquake, explosion, hazardous material spill/release, campus shooting, terrorist incidence etc. They have been further requested to convey relevant instructions to all the affiliated colleges for inclusion of this course in their curriculum.
Thakur has stated in his directive, "The Government of India is giving high priority to make students aware about disaster management in higher education institutions. Planning for natural disasters and emergencies is something every educational institution must consider. Preparation is the key to saving precious lives or minimise possible losses, if a disaster strikes."
The state government has decided to go slow but steady with the directive. State Education minister Partha Chatterjee said: "We have to analyse the perspectives and the reasons under which such directives have been issued. If there is peace in the educational institutions across our state then why should we introduce this in our curriculum," he questioned.
Chatterjee added that awareness regarding disaster management is being held on a regular basis at different educational institutions. "If safety, security of teachers, students and other officials are concerned then awareness campaign should be prioritised and we are already doing that," he said.
However, Chatterjee made it clear that he would discuss the matter with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee before progressing further in this regard. The UGC has also urged the university Vice-Chancellors to consider this in context of financial emergency that include sudden health emergency, unexpected loss of income, death in the family or other family emergency, rent in arrears and risk in eviction and natural disaster.
The UGC has earlier notified guidelines on "Safety of Students on and off Campuses of Higher Educational Institutions" requesting the educational administrators to ensure that students are safeguarded against attacks, threats and accidents.
The Ramkrishna Mission Vivekananda University based in Belur offers courses in Environmental Science and Disaster Management, through 'School of Environment and Disaster Management' located at Belur main campus and Ramakrishna Mission Centre at Narendrapur, Kolkata.
The university runs Ph.D. courses/programmes in Environmental Sciences with emphasis on climate change and human health issues.