August 7, 2018
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) hailed the move of select pilot schools in Cebu for mainstreaming disaster risk reduction (DRR) in education, saying it could be a model for disaster management in the country.
The pilot schools in Cebu are part of an ongoing project, "Promotion of School Disaster Risk Reduction and Management in Cebu Province" with support from Japanese non-profit group SEEDS Asia, the Department of Education (DepEd) Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS), DepEd Region 7, Japan's Hyogo Prefectural Board of Education, and JICA.
The schools included in the project are City of Bogo Science and Art Academy in City of Bogo, Carcar City Central Elementary School in Carcar, Cebu City Central Elementary School in Cebu, Daanbantayan Cental Elementary School in Daanbantayan, Beatriz D. Durano Memorial National High School in Danao City, Marigondon National High School in Lapu-Lapu City, Pakanaan National High School in Mandaue City, Uling Elementary School in City of Naga, Tabonuc Central Elementary School in Talisay City and Talevera Elementary School in Toledo City. Of these, six have already mainstreamed DRR education.
"DRR education in Region 7 created an effective link between and among education stakeholders to ensure that new set of schools and barangays can avail of focus group discussions, assemblies, fora and orientations annually," said DepEd Region 7 Director Juliet Jeruta.
By 2019, participating schools are expected to establish a disaster response system in coordination with local government units and community members. The project, which began in 2017 until 2020, focuses on school disaster management.
To coincide with the National Disaster Resilience Month last July, the project held its first National Conference on Promotion of School Disaster Risk Reduction and Management to share their best practices with other local governments, schools, and other DRR stakeholders in the Philippines.
"The experiences of the Cebu schools are worth emulating as they've involved multi-stakeholders in their disaster management and integrated DRR in the curriculum," said JICA Senior Representative Ayumu Ohshima. "Hopefully, other schools will learn from their best practices. In Japan, schools play a significant role in disaster management as seen during the torrential rains that affected western Japan."
Japan is known for its advanced systems in DRR, with frameworks and policies in place supporting disaster management. In Hyogo Prefecture, for example, during the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (or Kobe earthquake) in 1995, schools became evacuation areas. This encouraged the Hyogo Board of Education to create DRR system in schools.
Under the project, a group of educators from Cebu Province have already trained in Kobe in Japan to study DRR in schools.
Aside from DRR education, JICA also published with DepEd a handbook called "What Happens in Disasters!" compiling survival stories of Filipino children in disaster areas.
Data from the DepEd Basic Education Information System for school years 2009-2014 showed that out of 46, 739 public schools, 39,662 have experienced natural and human-induced hazards. Most of the natural hazards include tropical cyclones, floods, and earthquakes.
DepEd Undersecretary Alain Del B. Pascua at the National Conference on Promotion of School Disaster Risk Reduction Management (Photo from SEEDS Asia)