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Manila, Philippines – Save the Children and the Philippines’ Department of Education (DepED) will hold a National Congress on School Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) on May 30, 2012 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
Set just in time for the opening of the school year and the arrival of the rainy season, the Congress aims to share the best practices of preparing students, teachers and the community for disasters, and how to reduce its impact on the affected population.
According to Anna Lindenfors, Country Director of Save the Children in the Philippines, the UN World Risk Index has rated the Philippines as the third most disaster prone country in the world, next to Vanuatu and Tonga. For this year alone, about 20 storms are expected to hit the country.
“It’s usually children who are more vulnerable in times of disasters. If children are not prepared, they don’t know where their parents might be, they don’t know what’s going happen, and they don’t know where to go. The likelihood that they get severely injured or actually die is very high,” explains Lindenfors.
The Congress is the culminating event for Save the Children and DepED’s Mainstreaming DRR in the School System initiative, which started in July 2011 and piloted in 4 public secondary schools in Laguna province and Region 4A. At least 4,000 students and 300 public secondary school teachers and DepEd officials were trained to be leaders in disaster preparedness.
Mainstreaming DRR highlights the school system as a key player in preparing children for disaster. DepED Undersecretary for Regional Operations Rizalino Rivera acknowledges the importance of educating children on disaster preparedness and response starting at an early age.
“Preparing children for disasters is our priority. We are integrating it in the school curriculum and making sure that there is a greater consciousness about DRR among superintendents and regional directors,” explains Usec. Rivera.
With the theme “Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction in the School System,” the Congress will feature different activities that schools can implement to ensure the school community’s disasters preparedness. Simultaneous sessions and interactive booths will tackle topics on how to develop school disaster management plan, establish school early warning system, conduct DRR sessions, conduct of drills, and establish school disaster risk reduction and management groups; how to integrate DRR and climate change topics in the school curricula; and how to best involve children in disaster preparedness, among others. About 200 children, teachers, school officials from all the regions of the country and DRR practitioners are expected to arrive and participate in the Congress activities. Usec. Rivera will give the keynote speech.
The event is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
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