8 March 2022

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Children in schools affected by Typhoon Odette (international name Rai)-affected areas will go back to in-person schooling, two years after the COVID-19 pandemic and the super typhoon that destroyed many of their school supplies and classrooms.

Some 4,000 schools have resumed in-person classes in the Philippines, according to the latest update from the Department of Education (DepEd), including schools affected by the typhoon. Around 34 schools in Maasin City, Southern Leyte have resumed holding in-person classes while 51 schools in Caraga and 187 schools in Central Visayas have likewise taught students inside their classrooms. More are expected to be resuming classes soon.

UNICEF welcomes the expansion of in-person learning in the country, especially in areas where schools and learning centres were devastated and congratulates DepEd for its efforts in prioritizing the safety of learners as schools reopen. Providing children with access to education and learning is essential for communities to gradually recover.

“We happily welcome children back to school to continue learning, play with their classmates and see their teachers. We heard from many children that they miss being in school and learning new things. We congratulate all the school and local government authorities, parents and community members who continue to support the right to learn of children in the Philippines,” UNICEF Philippines Education Chief Isy Faingold says.

UNICEF has long advocated for children to go back to in-person learning to prevent any further learning losses. UNICEF as co-lead of the Education Cluster has so far delivered school and teaching supplies and services for Typhoon Odette/Rai areas benefiting 13,891 learners and teaching personnel while 91 Early Childhood Development kits will serve 2,730 children and 48 temporary learning spaces will benefit 2,400 individuals.

UNICEF will further train around 100 disaster risk reduction coordinators in Education in Emergencies. The UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools Programme is targeting 44 schools in Caraga region and Southern Leyte with assistance for small-scale repair of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. The facilities will be complemented with kick-start hygiene kits and cleaning and disinfection supplies.

UNICEF continues to call for sustained action to restore education to affected areas. More than 12,000 classrooms are partially damaged, while 6,000 classrooms are totally damaged, and more than 28 million learning materials are destroyed.

DepEd shared that 6,213 schools out of 47,668 public schools are ready for the expansion phase of the resumption of in-person learning. Around 2.2 million Filipino children aged three to four have not attended day care since March 2020. Young children need cognitive stimulation and socio-emotional development as well as adequate socialization skills and school readiness competencies.

To ensure that children’s right to education will be upheld amid the pandemic and the recovery process of schools and communities affected by Typhoon Odette/Rai, UNICEF calls for nationwide expansion of in-person classes including day care centres, allocating budgets for safe reopening, increasing access to open spaces for play and socialization, and implementing efforts to address the learning loss of students.

UNICEF supports the safe reopening of more schools in the Philippines by providing technical assistance through guidelines and standard operating procedures for the safe reopening of schools, supporting Bangsamoro children to go back to in-person learning, helping local governments, and providing schools with WASH facilities.

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