Bhutan National School Earthquake Safety Day

An annual learning event and simultaneous national school drill for all schools in Bhutan, which lies in a high seismic zone.

Students practice simple search and rescue during a mock earthquake drill at Zilukha Lower Secondary School in Thimphu, Bhutan. Photo: Karma Doma Tshering.

Bhutan recognizes the urgency to train students in what to do during a big earthquake. Half of the nation’s schools were damaged in moderate, recent earthquakes, a 6.1M earthquake in the east (2009) and a 6.9M event to the west (2011). Many children would have died if classes had been in session. More and stronger earthquakes will certainly occur, because Bhutan lies in a high seismic risk zone. 


With our sister organization, GeoHazards Society, we helped the Royal Government of Bhutan implement its first National School Preparedness Drill in 2013. Since then, the nationwide drill has become an annual learning event. 


To prepare for this day, teachers incorporate resource materials into lessons.They also plan specific training for special needs students. Administrators assign disaster response roles and confirm evacuation plans.

Bhutan is possibly the first country to conduct an earthquake safety drill simultaneously in its schools nationwide. Almost all of Bhutan’s 500 schools participate. In future years, the government intends to expand the drill beyond schools and create a national earthquake safety day. 


Project funded by Thornton Thomasetti Foundation