By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
An international organization promoting the rights and welfare of children underscored the importance of resuming classes in areas affected by the earthquakes in Mindanao to help address the psychosocial stress of affected learners.
Save the Children Philippines Chief Executive Officer Albert Muyot noted that the resumption of classes would be “critical” in addressing the psychosocial stress of affected children because it would give them a semblance of normalcy by “re-establishing” their routines.
A former undersecretary of the Department of Education (DepEd), Muyot said that “keeping children safe inside learning spaces is critical in times of emergencies” precisely because “children know that education gives them power to build a better future.”
The response team of Save the Children Philippines is also scheduled to set up temporary learning spaces (TLS) and distribute teaching kits starting this week to ensure displaced learners can resume classes.
To help ease the suffering of children and their families affected by the series of strong earthquakes in Mindanao, Save the Children Philippines steps up assistance to displaced children in earthquake-hit areas by distributing hygiene kits to more than 1,000 families.
Save the Children Philippines has delivered family hygiene kits and plastic tarpaulins “to ease the suffering of children and their families” affected by the series of strong earthquakes in Mindanao.
A total of 1,051 family hygiene kits and 130 plastic tarpaulins have been distributed to children and their families in the most affected towns of Makilala and Magpet in North Cotabato to protect them from “contagious diseases while in cramped evacuation centers and temporary shelters and makeshift tents outside their damaged houses.”
Citing initial figures from the Department of Education (DepEd), Save the Children Philippines said that some 3.2 million school-age children have been affected by the series of earthquakes that hit four regions in Mindanao including the war-torn Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) as well as Davao and SOCCSKSARGEN regions. Out of the 3.2 million children, at least 1.6 million of them are in Davao, SOCCSKSARGEN, and BARMM, regions that were affected by the earthquake.
Children ‘cannot wait’
Save the Children Philippines Humanitarian Manager Jerome Balinton said that the three temblors have “caused massive destruction and damage to houses, schools, roads and infrastructure and it may take years to complete rehabilitation of the damaged infrastructure.”
Despite this, Balinton said that “children cannot wait” and that the “he need for psychosocial support, shelter, water, hygiene and sanitation and the resumption of classes in safe learning environments is immediate and crucial to the recovery of children and their families.”
Save the Children Philippines noted that at the moment, more than 11,000 families remain in evacuation centers, with limited access to water and sanitation facilities. “And with many schools being used as evacuation centers, children’s learning is also affected,” the group added. At least 41 schools used as evacuation centers according to DepEd.
The group noted that a total of 260,492 people were affected by the three strong earthquakes across Mindanao, with 23 dead. Of the affected population, over 103,000 individuals are in Makilala town. “The numbers are expected to escalate as most of the affected families live in hard to reach areas,” Balinton ended.