SEAMEO INNOTECH holds regional consultation meeting on education and resilience
“As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure that children would be able to go to a safe learning environment,” said Dr. Daravone Kittiphnah, one of the resource persons of the consultation meeting.
Recognizing the fact that the education sector plays a big role in helping prevent and reduce impacts of conflicts and disasters, UNICEF, UNESCO, and the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) jointly organized the Regional Consultation Meeting on Education and Resilience in East Asia and the Pacific: Developing Guidance for Programmes and Policies that Promote Social Cohesion and Comprehensive School Safety held on 4 -7 November, 2014 at the SEAMEO INNOTECH Center, Quezon City, Philippines.
The consultation meeting aimed to address how education policy, planning, and programmes can help strengthen the resilience of children, schools, communities, and education systems through comprehensive school safety and social cohesion approaches. Both the participants and resource persons from 28 countries were able to share experiences and learning from their country’s policies and programs on risk reduction management.
“It makes me realize that resilience could not be addressed by just constructing physically strong buildings, but resilience has to be addressed within the person as well,” said Dr. Tinsiri Siribodhi, Deputy Director of SEAMEO Secretariat.
The four-day consultation meeting consisted of panel discussions and group work sessions. The first session focused on education and resilience in addressing conflict and social cohesion. The session started with Prof. Alan Smith giving meaning to resilience and social cohesion, and discussing the role of education in peacebuilding. The session continued with the panelists’ presentation on policies and programmes promoting social cohesion.
The importance of partnership, big role of education and literacy in peacebuilding, importance of understanding the differences of cultures, and importance of looking into the damages of conflicts to the people were some of the points emphasized on the first day sessions.
“Literacy is the best foundation to build peace and inclusive growth,” said Ms. Amina Rasul-Bernardo, President of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy.
The second day mainly focused on education and resilience in natural disasters, climate change, and comprehensive school safety. The panel discussions on the second day shared different country experiences in implementing policies and programmes on DRR and school safety. Points such as the importance of the children and whole community’s participation, importance of incorporating DRR in the curriculum, and importance of investing in DRR were raised in the session.
At the end of the second day, the participants shared their group work outputs—priorities in education and policies and programmes that would greatly impact on social cohesion, and recommendations on the policies and programmes. Most of the groups included the mainstreaming of DRR in education curriculum, community-based school mapping, participation of children and youth, coordination between agencies, and strengthening partnerships in their top five priorities.
“Sometimes it’s not the big disasters but the everyday risks that heavily impact on a child’s development,” said Ms. Caroline Zastiral, Regional Coordinator of Plan International, Asia Regional Office in Bangkok.
The third day of the consultation meeting focused on mainstreaming C/DRR into the education sector and strengthening networks, partnerships, and information platforms in EAP. Presenters shared their experiences and learning in implementing their programmes that promotes C/DRR through incorporating indigenous knowledge and values, as well as tools and strategies in monitoring and evaluating C/DRR. Points such as importance of conflict analysis, integrating C/DRR in education, creating a holistic tool, data as evidence, involvement of media, and importance of incorporating indigenous knowledge and values were raised in the sessions.
Workshop groups presented their final recommendations for the regional guideline after all the panel discussion sessions. Commonly mentioned were risk assessment, contextualization, integration of C/DRR to national planning, capacity development, unified approach, use of safe school framework, mapping and documenting, allocation of budget, and child participation.
“Involving children’s voices and participation in activities, research, and documentation, empowers them,” said Dr. Marilyn Manuel, Steering Committee member of the ARNEC Secretariat.
The last day of the conference was spent synthesizing the inputs and recommendations of the participants and drafting the regional guideline. Participants were very eager, pointing out and emphasizing concerns they think should be included on the guideline.
“The thing that we are able to do in the education sector […] is that we actually start at the very simple rights-based approach. We’re really starting with child rights, to safety and survival, and to educational continuity,” shared Dr. Marla Petal, Senior Advisor for Education and DRR of Save the Children Australia.