By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Recognizing the need for millions of students affected by the recent earthquake that hit parts of Mindanao to continue their learning, Save the Children Philippines expressed support to the Department of Education (DepEd) through the provision of teaching kits and temporary learning spaces (TLS).
Save the Children Philippines has deployed rapid response teams to meet the needs of communities following the series of earthquakes that jolted parts of Mindanao. The organization noted that an estimated 3.2 million children have been affected by at least five powerful earthquakes in southern Philippines over the past weeks – leaving damaged classrooms and thousands of people homeless.
Following a magnitude 6.6 earthquake that hit the town of Tulunan on Thursday, the second strong temblor that jolted parts of Mindanao in weeks, Save the Children Philippines has deployed an assessment team in North Cotabato and Davao del Sur.
Save the Children Philippines Chief Executive Officer Atty. Alberto Muyot said a total of 3.2 million school-aged children were affected in the series of five strong earthquakes – most of them in the conflict and marginalized areas in Region XI, Region XII, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“Most of the 3.2 million children affected are in conflict-affected and marginalized parts of the Philippines where access to emergency services is scant,” Muyot, a former Undersecretary of the Department of Education (DepEd), said. “Our team is already on the ground to assess the situation, determine the extent of damage and provide vital support to the affected communities,” he added.
Citing figures from the DepEd, Save the Children Philippines said over three million learners were affected by the magnitude 6.6 strong earthquake and continue to “suffer from psychosocial stress, miss out on school due to damaged classrooms, and being displaced from their homes.” These children, Save the Children Philippines added, “live in the conflict affected areas” in BARMM, Davao, and SOCCSKSARGEN regions.
“We recognize the specific vulnerabilities of children who are facing the impact of disasters,” said Muyot. Given this, Save the Children Philippines has already pre-positioned items such as teaching kits and TLS that “can be dispatched at any time” to support the DepEd “to help learners resume classes in safe learning environment.”
Muyot said that Save the Children is “ready to set up temporary classrooms so children don’t miss out on school.” These learning spaces, he added, will “provide much needed respite for children, some of whom may have lost everything, and provide a safe space for them to play and receive support.”
Save the Children Philippines will also set up child-friendly spaces (CFS) to provide psychological first aid to children who suffer from psychosocial stress. “We are doing everything we can to help them resume classes to establish normalcy in their routine and overcome their shock and emotional distress,” Muyot said.
Save the Children Philippines has also reached out to corporate and individual donors to send cash donations to “help scale up its assistance to children and their families” affected by earthquakes.