Legarda, UN Ask: How Safe Is your School?

November 21, 2013

Senator Loren Legarda and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) led by Ms. Margareta Wahlstrom, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for DRR, today encouraged schoolchildren, teachers and communities to assess the safety of their schools with the launch of the international program, “How Safe Is Your School?”


“Through this program, we invite citizens to participate in the process of making schools disaster-resilient with the initial step of assessing the safety of schools in their communities not only in terms of ensuring the structural integrity of the buildings but also in making sure that students and school staff are prepared in the event a natural hazard occurs,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change and UN Champion for DRR and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific.


“Among the most vulnerable to disasters are children. It is estimated that 66.5 million children are affected annually by disasters. It is therefore important to make our communities, including our schools, disaster-resilient to keep our children out of harm’s way,” she stressed.


She added that regular earthquake and emergency drills must be conducted in schools and their administrators and personnel should know the proper response and actions to take when natural hazards occur.


Legarda noted that the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol damaged at least 85 schools in Regions VI and VII; while Typhoon Yolanda caused damage to school infrastructure worth P174 Million.


The Senator also recalled that in 2006, the landslide in Barangay Guinsaugon, St. Bernard, Southern Leyte killed more than 1,000 people, including 246 elementary schoolchildren.


She added that in the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, 10,000 schools collapsed killing 17,000 children; while in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China, 7,000 schools collapsed killing an estimated 10,000 children.


“If our schools are not structurally sound, a single strong temblor could kill hundreds of children studying inside their classrooms, unaware of the disaster that would fall upon them. This makes this initiative all the more important,” she said.


“Building the resilience to disasters of the education sector is a worthy investment. It brings the double benefit of saving lives and achieving our development goals. I therefore enjoin everyone to assess the safety of our schools and let us work together towards the resilience of our children’s second homes,” Legarda concluded.