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    DepEd wants government to stop using schools as evacuation centers

    MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) wants the Philippine government to change the practice of using schools as evacuation centers for disaster-stricken residents in times of calamity, stating that classes should go uninterrupted.

    Year after year, there are about 20 tropical cyclones that enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR). Of these, 10 often become typhoons – and 5 of these typhoons are often potentially destructive, not only because of their strength but also due to the water it brings to the land.

    DepEd wants government to stop using schools as evacuation centers
    Photo credit: Tinaogan Central Elementary School's website

    So, year after year, a lot of places are placed under a state of calamity, with these areas submerged in flood waters or experiencing some other form of natural calamity, including landslides.

    While classes are suspended when these typhoons hit particular areas in the country, many places have extended class suspensions even weeks after the typhoon because the schools in the area are used as evacuation centers.

    What’s worse, typhoons are not the only reason for schools to be used as evacuation centers but everything else that constitutes a calamity, including fire. This leads to many students missing weeks of school hours.

    DepEd wants government to stop using schools as evacuation centers
    Photo credit: Tinaogan Central Elementary School's website

    The DepEd revealed that from 2016 to 2018, over 44,000 schools were affected by various calamities. Of this number, 39,000 schools were hit by tropical cyclones – and this was to be expected.

    Aside from the tropical cyclones, however, 21,000 schools were affected in areas hit by earthquakes while nearly 18,000 have been used as evacuation centers during calamities.

    Due to these numbers, a lot of classes remained suspended weeks after the calamity. The DepEd wants to put a stop to this situation.

    “It also stands its position that public schools are not to be used as evacuation centers in order to ensure the continuity of education given in the worst calamity situation,” explained DepEd Undersecretary Alain del Pascua.

    DepEd wants government to stop using schools as evacuation centers
    Photo credit: Ronda Balita

    As such, the DepEd will work hand in hand with local government units to find a solution to this problem, creating a different evacuation center for displaced residents without affecting schools in the area.

    “DepEd has the support of the President that the local government should build separate evacuation centers and avoid using the schools as such,” del Pascua added.

    — Joy Adalia, The Summit Express

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