By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The on-going armed conflict is taking a psychological toll on learners and teachers in Marawi City, the Department of Education (DepEd) said.
While the exact scale of emotional and psychological trauma is too early to determine, DepEd –through its Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS) – has started facilitating the training of its personnel and partners on Psychological First Aid (PFA) in Cagayan de Oro City.
The training of DepEd personnel started on the second week of June to enable them to provide psychosocial support (PSS) for personnel and learners in evacuation centers.
A Clear Need
According to DepEd Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Service (PAS) and Alterative Learning System (ALS), G.H. Ambat, the provision of PSS is a “clear need” based on testimonies of volunteers at the evacuation centers during her visit to affected areas.
Ambat recalled that during a recreational intervention, volunteers said that several children drew figures of the houses they were forced to leave in Marawi.
DepEd continues to exert efforts to restore routine in the lives of the displaced learners by expediting the delivery of education, whether through Alternative Delivery Mode (ADM) and other Flexible Learning Options (FLO).
Ambat said that psychosocial support interventions will also be provided to affected teachers to enable them to begin teaching and integrating PSS in the daily lessons.
Despite the challenges and concerns within and beyond the Department’s purview, DepEd’s said that its foremost priority is the “establishment of a safe, secure, and nurturing learning environment where children are enabled to develop their capacities, improve their well-being, and rebuild their lives.”
DepEd said that around 22,000 students and 2,205 teachers from public schools are affected by the Marawi siege which started on May 23. DepEd, through its DRRMS, DepEd ARMM and DepEd Region X and in cooperation with private institutions, several interventions are being conducted in 88 assigned accommodating schools within the divisions of Lanao del Sur 1, Lanao del Sur 2, Lanao del Norte, and Iligan City.
Zones of Peace
Due to the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi City which resulted in the disruption of classes, the Department of Education (DepEd) is initiating a campaign anchored on “Schools as Zones of Peace.”
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that DepEd deems it “essential and timely” to reiterate Department Order (DO) No. 44 series of 2005 or the “Declaration of Schools as Zones of Peace.”
Briones said that it “is imperative that this point be stressed and our schools be accorded the same respect – that schools are places for learning, caring, and nurturing: a true second home for our students.”
In line with nationwide awareness campaign, Briones has instructed all schools to post official tarpaulins declaring “Schools as Zones of Peace” at least on two on both sides of the school front gate and on all other sides of or around the school to make the message “prominent and noticeable.”
DepEd has also enjoined all personnel, stakeholders, and the community as a whole to “actively participate or establish peace building initiatives to ensure the safety of our learners, personnel, and schools” and encouraged “partnership and parallel efforts with the respective local government units” and other stakeholders to take part in the campaign.”
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