‘Integrate disaster preparedness education in school curricula’ – youth solon
KABATAAN Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino has called on Congress to study the possibility of integrating disaster risk reduction education in the country’s school curricula, as stipulated in Section 14 of Republic Act (RA) 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act of 2010.
Palatino filed on September 5 House Resolution (HR) No. 2760, which directs the House Committees on Basic Education, Higher and Technical Education, and National Defense to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation, for the said curricular reform.
In the light of recent disasters and floods, HR 2760 also urges the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to require all educational institutions under their jurisdiction to hold flood and typhoon response drills on a regular basis.
“Disaster preparedness drills should not only be done once in a blue moon. These essential life-saving drills should be integrated in the curriculum, and should be done as often as possible,” Palatino said.
Section 14 of RA 10121 mandates DepEd, CHED, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to integrate disaster risk reduction and management education “in the school curricula of secondary and tertiary level of education, including the National Service Training Program (NSTP), whether private or public, including formal and non-formal, technical-vocational, indigenous learning, and out-of-school youth courses and programs.”
Palatino cited the experience of schools in Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture, Japan, which shows that giving ample time for disaster management education proves to be invaluable in times of calamities.
Schools in Kamaishi allot 10 hours a year for disaster management education in both elementary and high school. Said schools teach their students the basics of evacuation by inviting experts in disaster management as advisers to speak to children. Teachers also brought in hazard maps created using data from the 1993 Hokkaido tsunami and held disaster preparedness classes for the students.
During the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, students were evacuated from the schools in an organized manner. Junior high school students also helped in the evacuation of Kindergarten students and the elderly in the community. Although Kamaishi was struck by the catastrophic tsunami, the great majority of the 3,000 primary and middle school students in the city fled to safety and were physically unhurt.
“This shows how well-trained the students were in facing disasters, thus reducing casualties and minimizing damages,” Palatino said.
At present, DepEd, together with the Department of National Defense and the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, conduct national school-based earthquake and fire drills on a quarterly basis.
“However, current disaster trends necessitate the integration of disaster management education in school curricula. Schools should also make sure that typhoon and flood drills in schools are implemented on a regular basis,” Palatino said.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry. Educating our youth to face natural calamities in a systematic manner will not only minimize damages but save lives,” the youth solon added.