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    Posted January 3, 2013 by

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    When I close my eyes, all I see are flying roofs, like sheets of paper - teacher, Baganga


    Bringing Back Education to Children After Typhoon Pablo


    Written by: Beverly Bicaldo, Early Childhood Education Advisor, Plan Philippines


    Uploaded by: Carin van der Hor, Country Director Plan Philippines


    In the picture; Ms Bicaldo (black t-shirt) and the principal and teachers of Baganga elementary school


    Perhaps there is no longer a need to describe in detail the devastation wrought by Typhoon Pablo over the provinces of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley early December 2012.


    One of my primary tasks in going there was to conduct a rapid damage and needs assessment in schools in the municipalities of Boston, Baganga and Cateel – three of the most hardly hit towns in Davao Oriental. My goal was to find out how the typhoon affected the access of children to education.


    In the course of doing the rapid assessment, I came across several groups of teachers who were busy trying to restore order and normalcy in their respective schools.
    In one school in Baganga, our simple conversation turned into an emotional sharing of bitter and horrible experiences during the typhoon. It was then that I realized, one of the immediate needs that should be addressed is the psychological stress debriefing for teachers – for they themselves are victims of disasters and in need of interventions to help them overcome the trauma they carry.


    Most of them complained that barely two weeks after the typhoon struck, they are suffering from tremendous exhaustion – both physical and psychological. There were times when they would have no appetite, or would find it difficult to sleep. As one of the teachers explained: “If I close my eyes, what I see are countless roofs flying in the air like thin sheets of paper.”


    Not a few expressed the need for an outlet. Some said that for once they wanted to see green in their surroundings again. Many said they were already tired seeing nothing but torn-down houses and their damaged classrooms. Others said they wanted to leave the town for a while – to see beautiful sights, to stroll, to help take their minds off from what had happened. The difficulties they experience were best summed up a statement made by one teacher: ”We love our students and we are very much concerned about their welfare. But we find it hard to help them and resume classes right away as we ourselves also need lots of help at the moment.”


    Based on the Rapid Disaster Assessment Report (RADAR) of the Department of Education, in the municipality of Baganga alone, 308 classrooms of 29 elementary schools were considered totally damaged. The other 147 classrooms were considered partially damaged. Total estimated cost of damages is placed around PhP 248 Million. A total of 14,308 elementary school children were affected in Baganga alone.


    Plan International believes in the role of education in the lives of children. But it further believes that education can also help bring normalcy back by restoring routines to children affected by disasters or conflicts. One way of restoring routines is by resuming classes as soon as possible. It is for this reason that one of the major interventions that are in the pipeline is education in emergencies.


    Very soon, vital resources such as children’s school packs, teacher’s packs, ECCD kits, facilitator’s kits for day care workers will be ready for distribution. At the moment, tents are set up which can be used as temporary learning spaces for children.


    We have also informed the Education Cluster and the Health Cluster of the needs of teachers so that appropriate measures can be taken to help address their physical, emotional and psychological concerns. For this is needed for them to become our effective partners in restoring normalcy and routine to the lives of children affected by Typhoon Pablo.


    It is my hope that we will be able to raise more funds to support the children who survived typhoon Bopha (Pablo) and who now need to be able to go back to school.

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