Enhancing the enabling environment for education continuity in multi-hazard settings in ASEAN

ASEAN region is home to various types of disasters, large and small scales caused by many drivers. Education sector is one of the those sectors heavily affected by the disasters and children are at times denied access to their right to education as they lose their school days and bear negative impacts of damaged school facilities and road blocks in times of emergencies. The long-term impacts of disasters also increase the risk of psychological stress and physical injuries to girls and boys, making them more likely to drop out of school.

Beset by disasters, education continuity in ASEAN plays an important role to bridge the gaps between steady educational development and disaster risk reduction in the education sector. ASEAN Safe Schools Initiative (ASSI) under its project funded by ECHO attempted to research on this particular topic from a multi-hazard perspective: 1) map and assess significant education continuity efforts in ASEAN during emergency and/or post-disasters, 2) identify and examine the challenges and gaps in the implementation of education continuity plans in ASEAN, 3) explore existing regulatory frameworks (policies, guidelines, budgetary, regional and national coordinating mechanism) that support education continuity management in the region and 4) recommend ways to enhance education continuity implementation in the region.

The research was done through literature reviews, on-site and machine-assisted data collection, interviews, focus group discussions, and policy reviews at regional level with specific cases in Indonesia, Thailand, and Cambodia. Education continuity, based on the ASEAN Common Framework on School Safety, cross-cuts three different pillars and this research analysed the selected cases based on how practices of education continuity are applied throughout the pillars at different phases: response, recovery, and preparedness. Some highlights of the research are:

  • quick decision to identify temporary spaces and gather assistance is in place while the school capabilities to perform first aid are found
  • clear procedure for emergency fund disbursement is in place with established standard operating procedures at school
  • schools studied reported that school retrofits were done and class discussion on types of hazards was also conducted
  • regulatory frameworks across different sectors exist and are complementary and supportive of one another

Nevertheless, the efforts of education continuity in ASEAN still pose challenges, in brief, as follows:

  1. when set up, temporary learning facilities are considered unhealthy and unfriendly
  2. limited coverage of assistance prevents availability of assistance to the affected school community in need and there is lack of accessibility
  3. teachers are not completely capacitated to design and perform various modes of teaching in times of emergencies
  4. varying understanding of different types of hazards, including violence, climate risks, etc.

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