ASEAN Safe Schools Initiative

Support the implementation, facilitate the scaling up and ensure sustainability of ASEAN Safe Schools Initiative across the region to have a safe and secure learning environment for children in ASEAN.

Why Safe Schools in the ASEAN region?

The ASEAN region is highly exposed to a wide range of adverse natural hazards such as cyclones,monsoons, volcanic eruption, earthquake and drought as well as man-made hazards such as climate change, violence and conflict. The ASEAN Disaster Information Network (ADInet) run by the AHA Centre, reports and records that a total of 893 disasters occurred in Southeast Asia countries between 2012 and 2017. Annually, ASEAN experiences losses of the estimated USD4.4 billion due to disasters (AHA Centre, 2018).

These disasters have a devastating effect not only to communities but to schools and the education sector, in eneral. Disasters can damage school infrastructure, disrupt education cycles, and thereby affect the most vulnerable, particularly the children, who spends half of their waking hours in school (Sorensen, 2013). When disaster strikes, children’s learning can also suffer during and after disasters due to psychological, social stress and injuries: as a consequence, they are more likely to remain out of schools permanently. In conflict settings, girls are 2.5 times more likely to be out of schools than boys (UNICEF, 2007). During Marawi crisis in the Philippines in 2017, 62,000 students were deprived of their right to access education when classes were canceled, in 69 schools and over 20 schools wiped out. More than one million students were out of school, for an extended period, when 4,300 schools were suspended due to typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines in 2018 (Save the Children, 2018). The Indonesian Ministry of Education reports that more than 1,800 girls and 1,900 boys were affected when 1,235 schools were damaged, in the aftermath of the Lombok earthquake in 2018 (Plan International Indonesia, 2018).

While education is one of the most adversely affected sectors during disasters, it can also be a powerful tool for reducing risks and losses (Sorensen,, 2013). Teaching children in schools on risks in their local areas helps build awareness and capacities not only for the child but also for the whole community.

ASEAN Safe Schools Initiative: its contribution to the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER)

The ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER), a disaster risk reduction legally binding instrument, was put into force in 2009 by ASEAN Member States (AMSs) identifying school safety as a strategic component. In order to achieve the objectives of AADMER Work Programme 2010-2015 in Education sector, the ASEAN Safe Schools Initiative (ASSI) was established in 2013 under the purview of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management Working Group on Prevention and Mitigation (WG on P&M). Under the new AADMER Work Programme 2016-2020, ASSI remains a priority initiative in Priority Programme 2: Build Safely – Building Safe ASEAN Infrastructures and Essential Services. Its output 2 addresses the scaled up ASEAN Safe Schools Initiative. ASSI is also a programme priority of Goal 5.2 in the ASEAN Work Plan on Education 2016-2020: support the development of ASEAN Safe Schools Initiative (ASSI) under the auspices of ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management. To support the implementation of ASSI, ASSI consortium (Plan International, Save the Children, World Vision and Mercy Malaysia) was formed and has provided technical assistance to the ASEAN for the past five years. 

ASSI is a sub-regional initiative of the Asia Pacific Coalition for School Safety (APCSS), an affiliate to the Global Alliance on Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in Education Sector (GADRRRES). The ASSI partners which worked closely to support the ASEAN Governments in promoting policy implementation of Disaster Risk Reduction in the Education Sector or school safety, are also members of the APCSS in addition to International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Asia Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR, formerly known as UNISDR). Further info, please visit GADRRRES website.


In alignment with the AADMER Work Programme, to scale up the ASEAN Safe Schools Initiative (ASSI), ASSI has identified these following underpinning technical thrusts:

  1. Supporting development of a member state-driven inter-sectoral leadership and coordinating
    structure for ASSI
  2. Strengthening National capacities on school safety
  3. Facilitating and supporting the country and regional monitoring and assessment of CSS progress using identified CSS indicators
  4. Building communities of practice
  5. Information and knowledge management

As the AADMER and ASEAN Work Plan on Education 2016-2020 is coming to an end by the 2020, the ASEAN Secretariat and ASEAN Member States are starting the review process and the development of new work programmes for both sectors. ASSI Programme Strategy 2017-2020 consequently phases out, in parallel with the end of ASSI support to the ASEAN Governments.

Who are involved?

ASSI is driven and implemented by the ASEAN governments (Ministry of Education and National Disaster Management Agencies) partnering with:

  • ASSI consortium partners (Plan International, World Vision, Save the Children, Mercy Malaysia) and AADMER Partnership Group (APG), a consortium of non-governmental organisations that agree to cooperate with ASEAN in the implementation of AADMER Work Programme
  • Coalitions and like-minded organisations (the Asia-Pacific Coalition on School Safety (APCSS), International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescents, GADRRRES (Global Alliance on Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in Education Sector).
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