To ensure learning continuity and to protect the rights of students and its personnel, the Department of Education (DepEd) documented good practices on schools and communities in armed conflict situations.
As the classes resume for School Year (SY) 2020-2021, DepEd strengthened its efforts to build a culture of peace and resilience in conflict-affected and vulnerable communities. Aside from ensuring that learning will continue, DepEd also reiterates its commitment to protect the students and personnel’s rights, welfare, and neutrality during armed conflict situations.
“We are firm with our commitment to protect the rights and welfare of our learners through the issuance of the national policy framework on learners and schools as zones of peace,” said Education Secretary Leonor Briones.
“This policy ensures the creation of safe, inclusive, and conflict-sensitive learning environments,” she added.
Led by DepEd – Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS) in partnership with UNICEF Philippines, a research entitled “Documentation of Good Practices on Schools and Communities in Armed Conflict Situations” was developed to showcase selected case studies of notable peace-building practices and initiatives on establishing and maintaining learners and schools as zones of peace.
“Our children and our schools are not objects of attack nor zones of battle; but rather, they are instrumental in building and sustaining a culture of peace in our country,” DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua shared.
The practices are reflective of the three building blocks of DepEd Order No. 32, s. 2019 or the National Policy Framework on Learners and Schools as Zones of Peace or LSZOP namely: Education for Peace, Peace for Education, and Crisis Management through Education in Emergencies (EiE).
For DRRMS Director Ronilda Co, the crafting of the framework was “heavily informed by actual experiences of how the schools and communities adapted and even flourished in the face of the realities and hardships of armed conflict.”
Meanwhile, UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov commended the research. “We hope that this study contributes to making our schools safer, more secure, and child friendly,” she said. “Educators, community members, parents, and students can work together towards a better world where all people live safely and free from fear,” she added.
The research presented measures to strengthen learning from the cases such as supporting upstream work on the development of an evidence-based national policy framework and guidelines to protect schools and learners in conflict-affected areas.
Furthermore, the research also focused on informing the downstream work on the integration of DRRM practices and peace-building in the professional development of school heads, teachers and education practitioners in specific school divisions and districts affected by armed conflict.