By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
To ensure the safety of learners displaced by Taal’s uncertain condition, the Department of Education (DepEd) is set to establish child protection mechanisms in the affected areas.
DepEd, in its latest Education Cluster Report, noted that child protection mechanisms will be established in areas where internally displaced children are staying.
Earlier, Save the Children Philippines expressed concern on the condition of children affected by the eruption of Taal volcano – particularly those who are currently staying in evacuation centers. The group reiterated its call for authorities to act immediately and safeguard future generations amid disasters.
The group underscored the need for the authorities to ensure that children are protected during disasters since they are “one of the most vulnerable groups during natural disasters particularly those under five, children from marginalized communities, girls and those with disabilities” and they children are “more likely than adults to be injured or killed” during disasters.
Save the Children also warned that children are “likely to suffer long-term developmental, physical and psychological setbacks” thus, authorities need to coordinate with parents and caregivers to “prepare for children’s unique needs at times of disaster.”
Ensuring continuity of education
Education Secretary Leonor Briones assured that learning will continue in areas affected by Taal’s eruption.
DepEd earlier issued DepEd Memorandum No. 003, s. 2020 which outlined the emergency measures in response to the eruption of Taal volcano.
In the directive, Schools Division Offices (SDOs) with knowledge of evacuation centers within their respective areas were instructed to “deploy available teaching and non-teaching personnel to conduct inventory of school-age children.”
In consultation with the learners and their guardians, Briones said that the DepEd local officials may be able to “facilitate their endorsement to receiving schools or the organization of other appropriate modes of instruction delivery.”
Based on the assessment of Save the Children Philippines, one of the most pressing concerns of children in the affected areas was their schooling.
“The children we’ve spoken to tell us that missing out on school is their biggest concern,” the group said.
In order to address this concern, Save the Children Philippines is also prioritizing the creation of mobile Child-Friendly Spaces (CFS) with play areas, art, and learning. The group said that the CFS in the affected areas will be staffed by childcare professionals so “children can learn and play while receiving emotional support to help them cope with their distress.”
Meanwhile, pursuant to the directive of Briones that education must continue despite adversities, DepEd Region IV-A instituted various mechanisms and interventions to help ensure that children will continue learning amid Taal volcano’s uncertain condition.
In particular, the DepEd Region IV-A has prepared for the deployment of Alternative Delivery Modes (ADMs) for learning continuity.
Profiling of learners in the 10 evacuation centers has already started and the local officials of DepEd also organized and assigned principals, regular teachers and Alternative Learning System (ALS) teachers to the 10 evacuation centers. Meanwhile, DepEd said that all 43 schools in Dasmarinas City in Cavite are “ready to resume classes on Monday.”
“As I have mentioned time and again, we should guarantee that whatever happens, be it armed conflict or natural disasters, education must always continue in order to restore normalcy among our learners’ lives,” Briones said in an earlier statement.
Latest DepEd data shows that 242 schools in Region IV-A are currently being used as evacuation centers. Of this, 1, 641 classrooms are being used by 9, 617 families or 43, 468 individuals. There are currently 11, 680 learners from eight divisions of DepEd staying in these evacuation centers.