Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Catap: Promoting a culture of disaster preparedness in schools

ACCORDING to the 2012 United Nations (UN) World Disaster Report, the Philippines is among the top three most disaster-prone countries in the world. With an average of 20 typhoons entering the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) in a year, five of these are often devastating. In a span of ten years, two typhoons which entered PAR, Ondoy which occurred in 2009 and Yolanda which occurred in 2013, caused overwhelming death toll rates and damages in agriculture, infrastructure, economic, and other significant aspects of development in our country.

Each time a typhoon or a natural disaster such an earthquake occurs, schools and learning facilities are also subjected to damage and destruction. According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), formerly UNISDR, “the scope of Yolanda’s destruction is reflected in the 4,000 schools that it had left either damaged or fully destroyed.”

In October 2018, when Typhoon Lando struck most of the Luzon island, at least 864 classrooms in the typhoon-struck areas were affected, with 419 rendered as “severely damaged” as reported by the Department of Education.

This July, in line with the celebration of the National Disaster Resilience Month and the theme “Kahandaan sa Sakuna’t Peligro para sa Tunay na Pagbabago,” the Department of Education further strengthens its various programs and projects aimed at promoting a culture of disaster preparedness in schools.

Through its Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Service, DepEd commits to build a “resilient society” in times of disasters. The DRRMS, has been implementing DRRM programs, projects, and activities with the “aim of reducing risks and impacts of disasters for learners, personnel, schools, and offices arising from natural and human-induced hazards.”

The DepEd DRRMS also aims to “empower personnel, offices, schools, and learners in ensuring safety and learning community.” It also “institutionalizes DRRM, Climate Change Adaption (CCA) and Emergency in Education (EiE); and “strengthens the resilience of basic education in the context of natural and human-induced hazards.”

In 2015, the Comprehensive DRRM in Education Framework was issued as contained in DepEd Order No. 37. It aims to “guide DRRM efforts in the basic education sector towards resilience-building in offices and schools” and to “ensure that quality education is continuously provided and prioritized even during disasters and/or emergencies.”

DepEd Order No. 37, series of 2015, or the Comprehensive DRRM in Basic Education Framework, institutionalized the core elements of the Comprehensive School Safety (CSS) Framework into all the resilience interventions of the public education sector. It aims to strengthen the pillars of safe learning facilities, school disaster management, and risk reduction and resilience education for schools.

Through this framework, DRRM structures, systems, protocols, and practices are institutionalized in the department’s offices and schools. It will also provide a “common understanding and language in the implementation of DRRM in basic education at all levels.”

At the same time, since the said framework is guided by its strategic thrusts and the National DRRM framework, the education interventions on DRRM should be aligned with the three outcomes [access, quality, and governance] and the four DRRM thematic areas [prevention and mitigation; preparedness; response, and recovery and rehabilitation] to maintain a learner-centered, right-based implementation at all levels.

Always prioritizing the safety of its learners, DepEd, through this strengthened program, ultimately seeks to protect learners and education workers from death, injury, and harm in schools; plan for educational continuity in the face of expected hazards and threats; safeguard education sector investments; and strengthen risk reduction and resilience through education.


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