In 2006, the ISDR (International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) (2007) initiated a campaign
called Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School to encourage the integration of disaster risk
education into school curricula in countries vulnerable to disasters. A study was initiated to
determine how education, in particular curriculum development and teaching, contributes to
South African learners’ hazard awareness and disaster preparedness. Mixed method research
(consisting of questionnaires, interviews and document reviews) was done to collect data.
150 educators from Gauteng, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, North West and the Eastern
Cape completed questionnaires. Five curriculum coordinators, three disaster specialists and
two disaster lecturers were interviewed to record their perspectives. The first finding of the
study was that the majority of educators, disaster specialists and curriculum coordinators
identified floods, fire, droughts, epidemics, road accidents and storms as the most prevalent
disasters in the country. The second finding from the literature and empirical data collection
revealed that South African communities, particularly people residing in informal settlements
and other poor areas, are more vulnerable to disasters than their counterparts in more affluent
areas. The third finding of the study was that teaching learners about hazards and disasters is
vital and must be expanded.