Teaching children to stay safe: education beyond academics
Whether it is healthy lifestyle choices or staying safe, schools have a responsibility to educate children on much more than academics. Cognita’s Pumahue and Manquecura schools in Chile have received much attention for their innovative approach to road safety in response to rising road traffic accidents in the country. Andrea Correa, Rector of the Pumahue School of Chicureo, explains.
In 2016, there were over 60,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths in Chile caused by road accidents, the highest in the last eight years. These figures are even more alarming as they reveal that road traffic accidents have become the number one cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 14 years.
The prevention of these accidents requires a permanent modification of behaviour from an early age in both drivers and pedestrians. We therefore decided to embark on an ambitious road education programme in our Pumahue and Manquecura schools by creating the first children’s “road parks” in Chicureo and Temuco.
The parks include streets, sidewalks, roundabouts, signposts, pedestrian crossings, traffic lights, parking lots, railroad crossings and green areas. They accommodate bicycles, scooters, skateboards and tricycle vehicles of different sizes so they are accessible to children from pre-kindergarden all the way up to fourth grade.
The road safety curriculum that has been developed alongside the “road parks” includes:
- Virtual stories for children in kindergarden and pre-kindergarten
- Lessons and guides for the development of road activities for students in kindergarden to fourth grade
- School brigades for fifth to eighth grade students
- Driving courses (theoretical and practical) for middle school students that allow them to leave the school with their driver’s license
Through this combination of facilities and curriculum, students learn vital skills and acquire a sense of responsibility that allows them to travel safely on urban roads, and thus reduce the main cause of death of young people in Chile.
Our Pumahue and Manquecura schools have carried out the road safety project with great motivation and responsibility, recognising the importance of an integral education in which our objective is not only to deliver knowledge, but better people and responsible citizens.