"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Friday, December 21, 2012

Disaster Mitigation and Education Reforms

It is anticipated that with climate change, unusual weather disturbances will occur more often. Flor Lacanilao recently wrote an article, "Adapting to a Warmer and Harsher World, How Resilient is Our Country". Broadly examining the current situation sometimes hides what may be really wrong. Lacanilao talks about "resilience". It is about preparedness. The main problem is that governments usually act after the fact. The public is also more willing to contribute after disaster has already struck. [By the way, donations are still very much needed for victims of the typhoon Bopha (locally named "Pablo").]

Photo downloaded from Typhoon Bopha/Pablo Donations Facebook page
It is far more difficult to entice the public to do its part in making communities more resilient to changing climate and severe weather disturbances. With regard to disasters, we are oftentimes "reactive" and not "proactive". Seeing this news item in the HuffingtonPost, for example, is simply mind boggling:


Typhoon Bopha Leaves Hundreds Of Fishermen Missing In Philippines


By BULLIT MARQUEZ 12/09/12 07:40 PM ET EST AP

NEW BATAAN, Philippines — The number of people missing after a typhoon devastated the Philippines jumped to nearly 900 after families and fishing companies reported losing contact with more than 300 fishermen at sea, officials said. 
The fishermen from southern General Santos city and nearby Sarangani province left a few days before Typhoon Bopha hit the main southern island of Mindanao on Tuesday, Civil Defense chief Benito Ramos said. The death toll has already surpassed 600, mostly from flash floods that wiped away precarious communities in the southern region unaccustomed to typhoons. 
Ramos said the fishermen were headed to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and to the Pacific Ocean. Coast guard, navy and fishing vessels are searching for them, and some may have sought shelter on the many small islands in the area....

There was no doubt in the forecasts made. The image below leaves no doubt on how powerful this typhoon was:
Forecast and Graphic by: Naval Maritime Forecast Center/Joint Typhoon Warning Center

And yet, hundreds of fishermen went out to the sea.

There are things that can be done before disaster hits to soften its blow. Yet, we seem to act more readily after and not before the fact. Basic education reform in the Philippines is very similar. The forecasts are unequivocal. Teacher quality and early childhood education are important ingredients for good basic education. And we ignore this. Some politicians are happy to place their names on school buildings that are being constructed. They do this with the same amount of eagerness as they distribute relief goods to places hit by a disaster. The eagerness in taking proactive steps, sadly, is missing.

Anne Lan Candelaria shared the following pieces data in her article, "Poor Education as a Threat to Society":
According to the latest data from the Department of Education, nine out 10 children ages 6 to 12 are currently in school while only six out of 10 teens ages 13 to 16 are enrolled in the public high schools. Among those enrolled, only about seven out of 10 are expected to complete Grade 6 and year 4. Meanwhile, dropout rate among elementary school children stands at 6.29% while the high school dropout rate is at 7.79%. 
Should these numbers be a cause for alarm? I believe they should, especially when we realize that there are 13 million children enrolled in the elementary schools and 5.5 million students in high school. A dropout rate of 6.29% and 7.79% means that by the end of the school year, we expect 817,700 elementary school children and 428,450 youth to be invisible from the education reform battlefield, with the possibility of going back to school becoming less and less as they linger longer outside the educational system.
For every year that problems in the early stages of education are not addressed, schools will produce a generation of problems. Limited resources should be placed where both need and impact are greatest. DepEd's K to 12 exactly does the opposite. The consequences will be as harsh as those of disasters.






No comments:

Post a Comment