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    Posted March 4, 2014 by

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    Building safe schools in Phl sought

    SENATOR Loren Legarda on Tuesday echoed the call of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) for the Philippines to be a leader country in building safe schools.
    Legarda made the statement as the UNISDR and the Department of Education launched the UN Global Programme on Safe Schools in the Philippines.
    "By safe, we mean that school buildings should be structurally sound and built on safe ground. We do not want a strong temblor killing hundreds of children studying inside their classrooms or a whole mountain of mud instantly burying children alive, like what happened in Guinsaugon Village," she said.
    The safe schools program invites citizens to participate in the process of making schools disaster-resilient with the initial step of assessing the safety of schools in their communities.
    The senator recalled that 246 schoolchildren were among the more than 1,000 casualties in a landslide that followed several days of heavy rains in Guinsaugon Village, St. Bernard, Southern Leyte, in 2006.
    In 2013, when typhoon “Yolanda” made landfall, some evacuation centers were reached by the storm surge, instantly killing hundreds of individuals who thought they had already sought refuge. “Yolanda” damaged more than 3,000 schools, aside from other infrastructure, in the affected regions.
    "It is estimated that annually, disasters affect 66.5 million children worldwide; and because children are among the most vulnerable to disasters, it is important that not only do we keep our children out of harm's way, but also we make them part of building resilient communities," said Legarda.
    She explained that learning institutions and the youth should be directly involved in efforts to make communities safe from disasters. Children should witness and practice disaster risk reduction early on in life.
    "If we inculcate in our children a level of disaster preparedness, this will be passed on to the succeeding generations when they become adults. This is what we aim with the safe schools initiative. We need safe schools; we need schoolchildren who are knowledgeable and informed about DRR. In making our nation disaster-resilient, we not only protect our young people, but also invest in our country's future," Legarda concluded.
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