MANILA — As the world observes the United Nations (UN) Universal Children’s Day on Monday, the Department of Education (DepEd) reiterated its commitment to maintain schools as zones of peace.
Every November 20, the UN Universal Children’s Day is being observed, aiming to promote awareness among children globally and improve their welfare. It also aims to promote “international togetherness”.
The DepEd said it is committed to ensure that students and teachers are in an environment free from harm and conducive to learning.
For her part, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said DepEd will always condemn activities that endanger schools and other learning institutions. Briones has always emphasized that education should not be delayed.
It may be recalled that last June, considering the crisis in Marawi City which started in May, Briones reiterated the need to adhere to the Declaration of Schools as Zones of Peace.
“Schools worldwide are treated neutral zones in areas where there is armed conflict. Schools must be free from armed combatants,” she said, adding that whatever happens to the country, education must continue and learners should not wait.
During the Marawi crisis, Briones required all schools in Mindanao to post streamers which read, “This school is a peace zone”.
“We enjoin everyone to ensure that learners, teachers and other personnel, as well as schools and other learning institutions, are spared from any form of violence and threat at all times, especially during armed conflict,” Briones said in a statement Monday.
Meanwhile, the DepEd has been actively campaigning for the country to sign the Safe Schools Declaration (SSD) and the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use During Armed Conflict.
Last March, during the 2nd International Conference on Safe Schools in Buenos Aires, Argentina, DepEd had also expressed its desire for the government to sign the SSD to protect schools and children from armed conflict.
The SSD, according to DepEd, was crafted and developed through consultations among various states as “an inter-governmental political commitment that provides countries the opportunity to express support for protecting students, teachers, schools, and universities from attack during times of armed conflict.”