Education International
Education International

Philippines: Trade unions act to rebuild education after tsunami

published 29 January 2014 updated 31 January 2014

The first Exploratory Meeting for the EI Philippine affiliates’ Post-Yolanda (Haiyan) Rehabilitation Initiative was held on 29 November 2013. It was attended by representatives of the EI regional Asia-Pacific office and of EI Philippine affiliates – the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), the National Alliance of Teachers and Office Workers (SMP-NATOW), and the Teachers’ Organisation of the Philippine Public Sector (TOPPS). Martin Carlstedt, observer from the Swedish EI affiliate Lärarförbundet, was also present.

Participants shared first-hand information as well as reports gathered from the field, in affected areas, by local organisers and organisations’ officers. Collected data and information will be used to develop assistance to teachers, children and schools within the EI mandate, as well as to the areas not yet covered by various governments, UN agencies, and non-government agencies.

Over 6,000 lives were lost to the terrible typhoon, and the devastation of schools, infrastructures and houses was massive. Around 80-90 per cent of the schools were destroyed and the remaining and not badly affected ones are being used as evacuation centres.

“The Department of Education is pushing for the teachers and students’ everyday life to go back to normal,” explained EI Regional Coordinator for Asia-Pacific Rey Dolot. “Classes have already resumed, teachers were present, but very few learners were around.”

Significant support needed

The survivors’ trauma and sense of hopelessness is heart-breaking, Dolot said. Families who lost homes and income sources must be helped more, he said. “They have to be comforted and supported, so that they can start rebuilding their homes and lives. More importantly, there is a pressing need for nurturing and raising people’s spirits in the face of challenges linked to the coming years of rehabilitation.”

Recommended immediate actions and engagements include the:

•             Formation of a joint EI affiliates’ National Coordinating Committee, to help manage/administer the possible assistance under the EI Solidarity Fund

•             Mapping/continuation of data and information gathering from the field, and validation

•             Organisation of trauma counselling and workshops on psycho-social needs of teachers and learners

•             Use of mobile teachers to handle the emergency situation

•             Networking/collaboration with the national Department of Education and UNESCO to fast-track the data gathering

•             Awareness-raising and training for the victims

A follow-up meeting will be held on 2 February to finalise and set up the implementation of pilot activities at the earliest possible time.

The following EI affiliates have already contributed to the Solidarity fund to assist the survivors in the provinces of Central Philippines: NTEU/Australia, FQPPU/Canada, CTF/Canada, CAUT/Canada, OTF/Canada, DLF/Denmark, IFTU/Ireland, ASTI/Ireland, JTU/Japan, ZENKYO/Japan, AOb Netherlands, NZTEU/New Zealand, Lärarförbundet/Sweden, Egitim Sen/Turkey and EIS/United Kingdom.