In ensuring the safety of students and teachers, the Department of Education (DepEd) convened with its officials, principals, Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) coordinators from the National Capital Region and CALABARZON, and representatives from Phivolcs to boost readiness of the schools along the East and West Valley faults.
Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC underscored the importance of strong leadership in disaster preparedness, “As principals, you are the leaders on the ground. While it is not in your job description, I know it is ingrained in your heart: to take care of school, students, and teachers during disasters.” He added that school heads need to be prepared and to have a “strong heart and clear head” during any disasters.
Luistro said that the foundation of strong leadership during disasters is having the right information. He encouraged the school heads to be updated and to have the correct information on DRRM, saying, “You have to be able to communicate to the parents, students, and teachers the right information to properly gear up the community for any possible disasters.”
“Bago pumasok ang estudyante sa June 1, lahat kayo dapat ay may sariling preparations in case the earthquake happens on that day,” he added.
DepEd Undersecretary for Regional Operations Rizalino Rivera said, “May mga nagawa na po tayo para sa patuloy na paghahanda ng ating mga eskwelahan para sa kahit anumang disaster.”
DepEd has existing and ongoing support to strengthen the preparedness and mitigation response of its schools and field offices nationwide. This includes quarterly emergency drill and integration of DRRM concepts in the curriculum. In partnership with other agencies, non-government organizations, and local government, DepEd has also developed learning materials that include understanding and preparing for the occurrence of disasters such as earthquakes. DepEd also has a continued partnership with Phivolcs in reinforcing and updating existing learning materials that will include engagement of families on earthquake preparedness.
DepEd is currently mapping and uploading these materials on the LRMDS for easier access of teachers and DRRM coordinators. The Department’s Regional and Schools Division Offices have come up with action plans for mitigation and continue to monitor and implement them. DepEd has also pre-loaded DRRM materials in all computer packages to be deployed to schools and DRRM coordinators.
DepEd is coordinating with Phivolcs in the revalidation of schools that may be transected by the possible movement of the West Valley fault. The schools initially identified are Barangka Elementary School, Barangka National High School (Marikina City), Anne Claire Montessori (Taguig), Alabang Elementary School, Sitio Karahume Elementary School (Bulacan), and Pedro E. Diaz High School (Muntinlupa City).
Luistro has directed DepEd engineers to confirm and validate the structural integrity of the building that may be affected in the abovementioned schools. He said, “Until this is done, the building will not be used for classes. We cannot take risks.”