DepEd helps Marawi learners re-establish sense of normalcy
AS AROUND 27 million learners began trooping to the excitement of a new school year, around 22,000 students and 2,205 teachers from public schools face uncertainty as they fled for safety from the now war-pummelled historic city of Marawi. The loss and damages may be immeasurable but one thing remains to be their beacon to stability and a sense of normalcy amid and beyond conflict—quality education.
Through the joint effort of the Department of Education (DepEd), through its Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS), DepEd ARMM and DepEd Region X, and in cooperation with private institutions, several interventions are being conducted in 88 assigned accommodating schools within the divisions of Lanao del Sur 1, Lanao del Sur 2, Lanao del Norte, and Iligan City.
Beginning June 5, DepEd organized information dissemination to internally displaced persons (IDPs) regarding the Learning Continuity Initiative of the Department. The DRRMS conducted field visits to monitor the eight DepEd Learner Tracking Teams, composed of various Division Offices in Region 10 and ARMM, regarding the registration of displaced learners and their accommodation to nearby schools. Actual registration is ongoing starting June 6 with simultaneous consolidation of data being submitted to DRRMS for analysis and allocation of interventions. One of the emerging issues was raised by DepEd Region 9 Director Isabelita Borres stating, “May iba na ayaw pa mag-aral dahil wala silang damit, walang bag,” adding that donated school supplies are already being arranged for distribution.
To address this concern and other needs regarding supplies and materials for resumption of classes, members of the Education Cluster (EC) and DepEd Regions 9, 10, 11, and 12 are coming together to provide school supplies/kits and hygiene kits for both displaced learners and personnel.
To augment the supplies to be provided by the EC and the four regions surrounding Marawi, assistance for additional materials are being requested through DepEd’s External Partnerships Service (EPS). A call for donations was also released on June 4 for additional learners’ kits. The DepEd DRRMS is coordinating as well with the DepEd School Health Division-Bureau of Learner Support Serprovided vices (SHD-BLSS) and World Food Programme (WFP) for the planning and facilitation of a school feeding program.
The DepEd DRRMS is also facilitating the training of DepEd personnel and partners on Psychological First Aid (PFA) in Cagayan de Oro City to enable them to provide psychosocial support (PSS) for personnel and learners in evacuation centers beginning the second week of June.
The provision of PSS is a clear need, based on testimonies of volunteers at the evacuation centers during the visit of Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Service (PAS) and Alterative Learning System (ALS), G.H. Ambat, to affected areas.
During a recreational intervention, volunteers said that several children drew figures of the houses they were forced to leave in Marawi. One child, however, embellished the house with a tall gate and a tower, and explained, “Gusto ko ganiyan ang bahay ko, may mataas na gate at maraming bantay para safe.” When asked what the tower is for, the child answered to the Assistant Secretary, “Diyan ko ilalagay ang sniper ko.”
While the exact scale of emotional and psychological trauma is too early to determine, DepEd is endeavoring to restore routine in the lives of the displaced learners by expediting the delivery of education, whether through Alternative Delivery Mode (ADM) and other Flexible Learning Options (FLO). Psychosocial support interventions will be to affected teachers to enable them to begin teaching and integrating PSS in the daily lessons.
With challenges and concerns within and beyond the Department’s purview, DepEd’s foremost priority is the establishment of a safe, secure, and nurturing learning environment where children are enabled to develop their capacities, improve their well-being, and rebuild their lives.
FIRST DAY HIGH. Evacuated students draw their experience about what they and other Marawi residents experienced before fleeing the city still under siege during a school day at Pantar elementary school in Lanao Del Norte, Philippines.