DAVAO CITY (May 30, 2014) – Mindanao’s state universities and colleges are stepping up efforts in making the island-region and its people more adaptable to climate change by integrating disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation (CCAM) in their curriculum.
The curriculum integration includes the proposal to offer short-term courses on DRRM and CCAM to students, employees of Local Government Units (LGUs) and other interested individuals. Part of the initiative is the move to designate DRRM and CCAM as compulsory subjects for all courses or to include these in the existing subjects such as the National Service Training Program (NSTP), the Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS), and the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC).
Among the schools that have committed to integrate DRMM and CCAM in their curriculum include the University of Southeastern Philippines, the Compostela Valley State College, the Davao del Norte State College, the Sultan Kudarat State University, the Mindanao State University-General Santos City Campus, the University of Southern Mindanao, the Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology and the Cotabato City State Polytechnic College.
Other schools such as the Southern Philippines Agri-business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (SPAMAST), the Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology (DOSCST) and the Notre Dame of Dadiangas University have already incorporated DRMM and CCAM in their CWTS and NSTP subjects.
“The country’s state universities and colleges play critical roles in integrating climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in the education sector,” said Dr. Irvin Generalao, SPAMAST president.
Majority of the students enrolled in SPAMAST come from poor families “who are considered as among the most vulnerable sector to climate change,” he added.
“By integrating and offering DRRM and CCAM in our programs, we intend to equip our students the appropriate skills, attitudes, and knowledge necessary for them and their families to adapt to climate change, and eventually cope with its impacts,” he said.
Generalao said that students who recently completed the school’s NSTP underwent series of trainings on first aid and disaster preparedness.
SPAMAST also implemented projects on climate change, including the Regional Disaster Science and Management (RDSM) funded by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development (PCIERD).
The RDSM maps out the earthquake-prone areas in Davao del Sur and disseminates these information to concerned local government units and authorities.
The school also manages two automated weather stations that are located in Digos City and Matanao, Davao del Sur. The weather stations collect timely information on meteorological conditions such temperature, amount of rainfall, and relative humidity, which are being forwarded to Ateneo de Davao University for consolidation.
“We hope to contribute to President Benigno Aquino III’s programs on DRRM and CCAM in our own little way. SPAMAST sees to it that all of its academic programs, including agriculture, environmental science, and engineering must include awareness on climate change among its courses,” Generalao said.
During roadshows with higher education institutions in Regions XI and XII conducted by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), SPAMAST and the other 10 state universities and colleges in Mindanao also pledged to undertake researches on climate change aimed to aid policy and decision-making bodies.
“These studies are crucial and we would like to maximize the expertise of our home-grown academic institutions,” said Janet Lopoz, MinDA executive director.
She added that MinDA regularly submits policy briefs to the members of Mindanao lawmakers’ bloc in Congress while adding “the agency lobbies for Mindanao-related policies that are supported by thorough research.”
The Mindanao 2020 or the island-region’s 20-year peace and development roadmap for 2011-2030 stressed that Mindanao must position itself to adequately meet the challenges of climate change.
“We are glad that our stakeholders from the education sector are now rallying for this cause. The government and private sectors must work together in implementing DRRM and CCAM initiatives,” she said.
Lopoz encouraged all stakeholders in Mindanao, especially those from the private sector to collaborate under MinDA’s flagship program called the MindaNOW! Nurturing Our Waters Program which seeks to harmonize all DRRM and CCAM efforts in the island-region.
Republic Act No. 10121, the law that institutionalized the country’s DRRM system and framework requires the integration of disaster risk reduction in the school curricula. It mandates the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to integrate disaster risk reduction and management education in their school curricula, which include the National Service Training Program (NSTP), formal and non-formal, technical-vocational, indigenous learning, and out-of-school youth courses and programs.
The education sector on the other hand is required by Republic Act No. 9729 or the law that created the Climate Change Commission, to incorporate climate change into their primary and secondary subjects that include science, biology, sibika, and history.