AS RESUMPTION of classes in Bohol is being worked out, the Department of Education (DepEd) ordered regional school authorities to ensure that school buildings and facilities can withstand heavy rains and strong winds.
Authorities are still assessing the safety of school structures and facilities, which may extend beyond today’s resumption of classes nationwide.
Also because of lack of tents to become temporary classrooms, with less than 10 percent of tents available to DepEd, the department is considering options like shifting class schedules and using public spaces as temporary learning areas.
The tents will also protect vital school facilities like notebooks, teaching materials, school records, and equipment like fax machines, laptops, photocopiers, televisions, VCRs and science tools from rain and flood.
Over 900 tents are needed to replace thousands of classrooms destroyed by the 7.2-magnitude quake on October 16. The quake had disrupted classes for the past two weeks affecting over 1 million schoolchildren.
A foreign non-government organization called Save the Children has been providing relief in the quake hit province, setting up much-needed tents as temporary learning spaces and conducting learning sessions for children in some of the worst-hit municipalities in Bohol. School and teaching materials are distributed to children and teachers who have lost their belongings in the quake.
“These children have been through a distressing ordeal for the last two weeks, with countless aftershocks rocking the area after the first initial jolt,” said Ned Olney, deputy country director for Save the Children in the Philippines.
“From our experience, we know that resuming classes is essential to restoring a sense of normalcy among children and to providing psycho-social support they need to cope with the distress caused by the disaster. Through schools, we can teach children how to prepare for any other significant aftershocks.”
Initial government reports reveal that close to 300,000 students and 15,000 teachers and school personnel require psycho- social first aid to help them cope with the disaster.
Save the Children continues to respond to the disaster in coordination with government and aid agencies on the ground, providing families with tent materials, cooking utensils, toiletries and other essential household items. The children’s organization aims to reach 8,000 families including 30,000 children in our relief work.
“Children are the most vulnerable in any disaster, and the impact of this disaster on their families’ livelihoods will have consequences on their education and nutrition,” said Olney. “These immediate measures to resume school for children will ensure that they are protected and allow parents and families to focus on recovery.”
Save the Children has been working in the Philippines since 1981 and has a long experience responding to emergencies in the Philippines. The organization is currently responding to the aftermath of the Southwest monsoon floods, Typhoon Utor, Typhoon Bopha and the Zamboanga conflict.
Education Undersecretary for Regional Operations Rizalino Rivera has urged school authorities to reiterate disaster preparedness measures to minimize risks and ensure learners’ continued access to education.
“Our school personnel should be able to anticipate risks of natural and man-made hazards and ensure the safety of people and property before, during and after an emergency so that there is protection and safety of lives and minimal or no disruption in the delivery of education,” Rivera explained.