By Imelda V. Abano
photo by EV Espiritu
LEGAZPI, Albay— For the first time, school children in the province will be put on the frontline of the battle to save the planet as issues such as climate change and disaster risk reduction are at the heart of the school curriculum.
Starting this school year, climate change adaptation strategies will be integrated into subjects such as Mathematics, English, Social Studies and Arts in 33 elementary and high school throughout Albay, said Alice Terrell, schools division superintendent of the Department of Education here.
“ It is making climate change cool in the classroom.,” Terrell said. Educating children about the dangers of climate change and importance of adaptation are vital. Teachers will be given more scope to bring topical issues relevant to today’s changing world.”
Albay sits squarely along the pathway of 5 to 6 typhoons that visit the Bicol region in a year. It is in constant threat of flooding, sea level rise and the active Mayon volcano.
Approved by President Benigno Aquiono III, the integrated “ Mainstreaming of Climate Change Adaptation in the Philippine Curriculum” in the curricula of public schools is under the supervision of the Center for Initiatives and Research on Climate Change (CIRCA) and DepEd.
In the past few months, at least 8,472 teachers underwent extensive training with some climate change scientists and experts to perfect 20 lesson plans for every subject area.
“ Teachers as well as students were excited about this integration. Climate change and disaster preparation is not an easy thing to do, but we need to inculcate in school children principles of sustaining their environment,” Terrell said.
Should the integration of climate change adaptation successful this year, Terrell added that it will be expanded soon in all 593 elementary schools and 120 high schools in Albay.
Manuel Rangasa, executive director of CIRCA, said there is a need to engage the youth “because it makes them understand how their lifestyle contribute to the changing climate, and how they can help stop it.”
Rangasa said teachers will be using interactive classroom discussions to get the attention of the students such as visual aids, drawings, story-telling, actual emergency situations, learning trips, among others.
He added that the curriculum is a partnership effort of CIRCA, DepEd, the University of Los Banos, International Center for Research and AgroForestry, Millenium Development Goal-F, United nations Development Programme and climate experts.
Governor Joey Salceda, on the other hand, said that local government units in the country are now beginning to learn how to best deal with disasters and climate change with the Climate Change Academy being established in the province.
“ We are at the forefront in confronting the escalating impacts of climate change. Our agriculture and food security so we should make adaptation as our governing policy,” Salceda said.
In 2008, Albay was dubbed as “the global local government unit model for climate change adaptation” by the United Nations and the World Bank. The province has initiated various innovative approaches to tackling disaster risk reduction and adaptation as well as its “zero casualty” program during calamities.
published June 14, 2011 BusinessMirror