In keeping with the government’s thrust to build back better, the Department of Education (DepEd) continues to deliver basic education to five regions affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Regions IV-B, VI, VII, VIII, CARAGA).
At present, the Department’s Yolanda interventions are geared toward the fourth and final phase of its Framework for Recovery and Rehabilitation. This includes the rehabilitation of more than 17,000 damaged classrooms, construction of new classrooms, and distribution of school furniture. As of November 4, more than half of the targeted 2,313 classrooms are ongoing construction.
Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC assured the public that the classroom construction in Yolanda-affected areas would be finished by June 2015.
Apart from the government-funded rehabilitation of school facilities and physical structures, DepEd has also allocated resources for 6.37M copies of learning materials and textbooks, and computer packages for 134 schools that lost computers.
The Department also provided immediate psychosocial intervention for about 2,500 personnel and 1,886,747 students, which continues to date.
People-centered disaster preparedness and response
Immediately after ST Yolanda, the Department mobilized its personnel and organized search teams in all five regions to locate those that could not be contacted. DepEd also conducted immediate clean-up of schools and offices, and established interim offices.
DepEd institutionalized an information management process that facilitated timely data gathering despite the scope of the damage across thousands of schools. This allowed DepEd to work better with its partners from the education cluster—local government units, local and foreign non-government organizations—to rebuild safer learning environments for the affected learners. Partners were able to respond quickly and allocate resources immediately as an initial response towards recovery. Through this coordination, DepEd was able to establish makeshift classrooms in less than a month.
“Our first task is to ensure that we instill a sense of normalcy among our learners after any disaster. We ensured that despite the scope and impact of Yolanda, education was not among the casualties. Resumption of classes were done in three waves: November 11, 2013, December 2, 2013, and January 2, 2014, respectively.”
The national government’s response shall complement that of the private sector as we move toward better coordination for our people’s wellbeing.
The Department is now on its fourth phase monitoring procurement (for repair and reconstruction of classrooms) and implementing long-term strategies that have to do with empowering its local offices to do community and context based planning.
DepEd has also reinforced its Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) through capacity-building workshops for DRRM coordinators nationwide, boosting disaster preparedness and response of the Department’s regional offices and the different divisions as they prepare for context specific hazards. Among the specific aims of the workshop was to train DRRM coordinators to conduct geo-hazard mapping and analyze results in preparation for planning and implementation of disaster response strategies.
The education chief said, “At the end of the day, disaster preparedness is about people. It is about local government working with the local community and institutions to ensure that this is part of our culture and part of our everyday life. It is not only about structures; it is not only about coordination. It is about ensuring that people are prepared not only with respect to skills, but also with respect to a heart that allows them to go beyond themselves—to take care of others: before, during, and after a disaster.”