As flood waters the size of France and Germany combined stubbornly refuse to recede from waterlogged ground and more rains threaten, the Queensland Education Department is slowly coming to terms with the longer term effects of the natural disaster that struck some Australia Schools last week.
Australians are obsessed with sports like Rugby, Australian Football and Cricket, and for this reason often site their schools on level ground to facilitate the construction of large playing fields. This can be a recipe for calamity when rivers burst banks and water levels exceed the 50 year rule.
The Education Department’s website is full of notices regarding the floods. These range from information about emergency planning to rules for lodging insurance claims. Most poignant among these are advice to those responsible for little children regarding the perils of their being dragged away by currents into deeper water, and the ricks of crocodiles and river snakes. Teachers are under a different set of threats because their special leave with full pay under these conditions is limited to just 5 days a year. While Special Leave Directive Number 8 of 2006 does allow for exceptions, there is no guarantee that educators whose homes may be also flooded will be fully paid.
An entry on the Charleville School of DistanceEducation website is particularly heartbreaking. Alongside a picture of two small children wading along a flooded road out in the bush in their school uniforms are the thought-provoking words, Our thoughts are with all our Students, Home Tutors and their Families as they battle the effects of the recent flooding in Queensland's South West - How do you get to and from school?
We live together on a fragile Earth with brittle weather. Climate change is affecting all of us and who knows how extreme it could get. Spare a thought for teachers mucking out devastated schools under dangerous conditions while Australia floods refuse to recede, and for the little ones whose Queensland education will undoubtedly have to suffer as well.