Yesterday news from DepEd came in, upon seeing the harrowing aftermath of Yolanda to Region 8 and other towns, I wonder where DepEd will begin again. I wonder how painful this would be once again for the education workers, stake-holders and of course to the one who leads DepEd, who have coursed an up hill battle to build schools and made sure that our students are given enough materials as K to 12 was established this year. News about building being devastated, schools for sure would not be excused from this, more so our teachers, and the students, who right now, might be grieving, hungry, or worst, sick and unsheltered.
DepEd Press Release:
PASIG CITY – 24 hours after the establishment of Task Force Yolanda the Department of Education (DepEd) has announced the status of the division offices affected by the typhoon. All divisions in regions 4A (Calabarzon), 4B (Mimaropa), 5 (Bicol), 6 (Western Visayas), 7 (Central Visayas), 10 (Northern Mindanao), 13 (Caraga), and the National Capital Region are considered operational and are now tasked with contacting the various districts and schools under their supervision to determine their status.
Region 8 (Eastern Visayas), which bore the brunt of Yolanda, remains the most severely affected, with only four (4) out of 13 divisions operational. Ormoc City and Western Samar divisions remain closed, while no reliable communication lines have been established with the divisions of Baybay City, Biliran, Borongan City, Eastern Samar, Catbalogan City, Leyte Province, and Tacloban City.
Eastern Visayas has a total of 4,132 public schools manned by 58,179 teachers and a student population of 1,107,367. Resumption of classes is determined by the division superintendent in coordination with local government officials. School heads have also been given authority to suspend classes in damaged schools until the structures have been properly assessed and cleared by DepEd or LGU engineers.
With this to note, let us here from the DepEd secretary himself, Bro. Armin Luistro, FSC.
Look for the lost sheep
Statement of Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC to Visayas regional directors, superintendents, school heads and other DepEd personnel in Yolanda-affected areas.Delivered during a crisis command meeting at the DepEdEcotech Center in Lahug, Cebu.
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This is a crucial time for us. It is during times like this when you are most needed. It is important that you recognize your leadership role. The leader has to stand strong. Without a leader, chaos just spontaneously erupts. These are trying times, but you don’t have to rely on yourself alone. A good leader always creates the team, strengthens the teams. In times like this, you need leaders who are not just designated, but who are actual leaders on the ground. For good decisions, good judgment and a big heart are a must; because when all else fails—no more records, no communication—you have to rely on your judgment, on the bigness of your heart.
Before anything else, let’s look for our people. Let’s list all affected regions, contact one person so we could get a description of what is going on. Regions contact divisions. Divisions contact schools. Schools establish contact with teachers and staff. Let’s look for people first. Don’t worry about damages to property—we will deal with that later. The worst thing is to count buildings and fallen trees and not account for our people.
Second, let’s bring our children back to school. The best way for kids to recover is to bring them back to their routine as soon as possible—and that is to bring them to school. There is no need to conduct classes right away. Let them play. Do activities.
The Department of Education must be the spokesperson for children. Bring them back to school; then we will start accounting for them. Let’s see who are not present and who cannot be contacted: sick, missing. In times of crisis, we account for the lost sheep. This is what the leader should do: to leave the 99 and look for the lost sheep.
Indeed, these are anxious times—people are really left to fend for themselves—but we are good at this. We filter this anxiety and bring science to it. Two anchors of DepEd: we see things in the point of view of children and we bring light into the darkness.
As educators we are the sobering element. We are the calming effect in any crisis. When everything falls, and we have nothing to rely on, we stand tall—not for ourselves, but for others.