NDMA's 2nd national workshop mulls over education sector emergency response.
The NDMA under its second National Consultative Workshop Education Sector Contingency Planning Guidelines (ESCPG), took the initiative of developing consensus over the guidelines based on Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) Minimum Standards for education on preparedness, response and recovery. The workshop was organized by NDMA in collaboration with United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) whereas the project was co-funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid for Civil Protection (ECHO), Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) and HOPE'87.
The PSSF was developed by NDMA for preparedness of schools in benign conditions to develop certain capacities and systems of schools coping with any urgency and calamity with least damage of human lives and resources whereas the ESCPG are the principles designed to provide a direction to the schools during disasters and emergencies to avoid disruption of education process.
Member Operations NDMA Brig Mukhtar Ahmed said that access to education was a basic human right and is linked to better lives for children and youth whereas emergencies often take a heavy toll by disrupting education activities.
Speaking at the National Consultative Workshop, he said education was disrupted owing to different reasons as schools may be destroyed or damaged as was the case during the 8"' October 2005 earthquake and the 2010 floods in Pakistan, or when people are forced to leave their homes for longer periods e.g. the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Internally Displaced People (IDP) crisis (beginning in 2010).
In emergencies, he said people tend to focus on survival with education taking a back seat, adding this happens at times when children were most vulnerable and face an uncertain present and future, as disasters take away from the children the opportunities that an education can provide.
"Education in emergencies also provides immediate physical and psychosocial protection. Good quality emergency education can reduce exposure to risks. It can also help children to acquire knowledge, skills and mental resources that can increase their resilience in the long run," he added.
Member Admin and Finance, NDMA Raheela Saad said Gender and Child Cell (GCC) NDMA, formulated the Pakistan School Pakistan Safety Framework (PSSF), in line with its national and global commitments to strengthen the awareness and preparedness of students, teachers as well as the community at large, regarding hazards and potential risks.
The main purpose of the PSSF was to provide policy guidance and to set a standard for the implementation of Comprehensive School Safety at national, provincial, district and school levels whereas in the next phase it was necessary to impart education in emergencies in the backdrop of the framework, she added.
The PSSF, she said was pretested through a Pilot project in 68 selected government and private schools across the country with the aim to determine the applicability challenges of the Framework and view its effectiveness in disaster risk management, in the education sector at national and regional levels.
Raheela Saad said PSSF pilot programme brought forth a number of issues which needed immediate attention one of them being "education continuity". A policy initiative in this regard is highly imperative, she added.
She went on saying that in Pakistan there was a need for such a document at the National Level which would further complement the Pakistan School Safety Framework (PSSF). The development of Education Sector Contingency Planning Guidelines (as per INEE Minimum Standards 2010) would greatly help in filling the gaps identified by the stakeholders in ensuring safe and secure educational facilities for children in case of emergencies, she added.
The workshop was attended by as many as 81 participants mainly from provincial and district disaster management authorities (PDMAs and DDMAs respectively), United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), other UN Agencies, international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and non-governmental organizations, ministry of education and professional training, ministry of human rights and other relevant stakeholders.
The national consultative workshop discussed key issues of policy concerns in education sector in emergency from standard of community participation, assessment and analysis access and learning environment, private sector inclusion and monitoring and evaluation to standards of schools and security.
The participants presented expert recommendations during discussions over the draft presented on minimum standards of education in emergencies in Pakistan namely the Education Sector Contingency Planning Guidelines.