E-Learning tools for Public Awareness Programme Education in Disaster Risk Management: case study of the City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Centre
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Disaster occurrence around the world has in the past few decades increased at an alarming rate necessitating an urgent need for mitigation strategies. As a result, research has indicated the usefulness of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in disaster risk management. Furthermore, ICT generally plays a critical role in all aspects of disaster risk management such as: early warning prediction; informing and circulating information relating to disasters to communities especially those at risk as promptly as possible and providing communication structures immediately after a disaster occurrence. As part of its planning and precautionary measures in responding to disasters, the City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Centre (CoCTDRMC) implements public awareness programmes across the city. The most acclaimed is an annual awareness programme especially for high school learners selected from various schools across the city. The learner participants are expected to act as change agents in their communities. In 2012, learners from twelve different schools across the city benefited from this programme. They were expected to educate families, friends, schoolmates and communities generally on the topical issues surrounding disaster risk management. This study uses a case study approach. Since the target audience of the programme is the youth, there is need to shift towards utilising ICT. The aim of this paper is to look at how eLearning as an ICT tool can be integrated in the implementation of Public Awareness Education Programme (PAEP), so as to target broader audience and create an increased capacity building across the City of Cape Town (CoCT). The examination considers providing tools that are accessible, dependable, resilient and flexible among the residents so as to reach the grassroots levels where communities are mostly affected. The paper considers a combination of tools so as to support behavioural change. Some of the research findings are that, the 2012 programme was very beneficial and successful. Henceforth there is need to target a broader audience, and although the CoCTDRMC does make use of some relevant ICTs, there is need for additional and upgraded technological resources. Also pertinent is the fact that eLearning can play a major role in making sure that a broader audience is reached if applied effectively. The findings of the research are of relevance to the CoCTDRMC and other municipalities across South Africa. The Centre for Innovative Educational and Communication Technologies (CIECT) at the University of the Western Cape can also use these findings to develop and implement an eLearning course for both employees of CoCTDRMC and other interested community members. This will guide them on how eLearning can assist in fostering a successful implementation of PAEP across the city.