TO ENSURE preparedness and to lessen destruction brought by natural calamities, the Department of Education (DepEd) said it will integrate the teaching of disaster risk reduction in the basic education curriculum starting June this year.

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said they are just fine-tuning the details of the program, including the production of modules to be used by teachers and the school children.

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Lapus said a country like ours, which is prone to natural calamities because of its geographic location, need not be helpless when visited by typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other natural hazards.

“These are the realities we have to live with. We should know what to do when disasters happen to lessen the devastation,” he added.

He said the lack of preparation in previous calamities, such as last year’s twin devastation brought by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, resulted in the death of many Filipinos and cause extensive damage to infrastructure and crops.

Currently, the official said the DepEd is developing modules and lesson exemplars on “Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction” to be used by teachers and students to help prepare schools in times of disasters.

“Safety lessons need to be taught in schools to reduce risk when disasters strike. These lesson exemplars educate our teachers and students how to respond to the situation,” Lapus added.

DepEd is set to start the integration of these materials in the secondary curriculum starting June 2010.

The newly-developed lesson exemplars and teacher/student modules were the department’s response to the recurrence of disasters in the country.

This initiative, in partnership with the National Coordinating Council (NDCC), is part of the project on Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction into Development, Policy, and Implementation in the Education sector.

The DepEd chief said the main goal of this project is to educate school children on the different kinds of hazards and how to respond to each of these when the need arises.

For his part, DepEd Undersecretary Antonio Inocentes explained that the idea is not adding a new subject but integrating disaster risk reduction management into the curriculum.

“We want to prepare our students and teachers so they would know what to do before, during, and after disasters. The focus actually is awareness, preparedness, and action,” Inocentes said.

These materials aim to educate our school children and prepare them for disasters and calamities that may strike without warning like the recent high intensity quakes that shook Haiti, Chile, Taiwan and Cagayan Valley in the country.

In the aftermath of last year’s Ondoy and Pepeng, the United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) pushed for the full integration of the program in the basic education curriculum.

“We are in talks with the Department of Education to include disaster risk management and reduction as well as safety measures in the basic curriculum. Trainings of school officials should also be included,” Devera Mateo, Unicef representative said then.

Mateo said Unicef has likewise urged DepEd and the national government to invest more resources on alternative mode of delivering education to areas affected by calamities so that children's schooling will not be disrupted.

“We at Unicef are designing self-learning modules suitable for schoolchildren. They can study the modules in their homes or even in the evacuation centers. The bottom line here is that their learning will continue even in times of calamities,” the Unicef official further said. (AH/Sunnex)