UNESCO Workshop: Resilience of Educational Infrastructure
3 November 2022
On 22 October 2022, public school principals, disaster risk reduction practitioners, and infrastructures managers joined a whole-day workshop jointly conducted and facilitated by faculty members, formators, and students from University College London (UCL) and Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan (XU).
The blended online-onsite workshop is called: Educational Infrastructures’ Resilience to Natural Hazards (Integrating Schools and Transport Systems). The event is part of a collaborative project between UCL and XU, under the UNESCO Chair for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience Engineering (DRR-RE) chaired by Prof. Dina D’Ayala of UCL. The project aims to come up with science-based solutions, recommendations, and policy briefs that would help implement safe school infrastructures in the Philippines. It also considers the critical role of roads and bridges during disasters and emergencies. The Social Development Office and the Engineering Resource Center are the lead units for XU’s role in this engagement.
The event was attended by selected public school principals whose schools are potentially exposed to natural hazards like floods, earthquakes, and landslides. Their respective School Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (SDRRM) Coordinators were also present. The Regional Office of the Department of Education, where public schools are under, was also represented. Because schools in the Philippines are also often used as evacuation / temporary shelters and relief distribution hubs, representatives from the City Social Welfare Department and the City DRRM Department were also invited. The City Engineer’s Office was also represented. To capture the important role of transport systems, the City’s Roads and Traffic Administration and the Department of Public Works and Highways were also invited.
Among the topics discussed were the principles, experiences, and case studies of safe and functional school buildings and transportation facilities, and the interaction of these two systems. The resource speakers from UCL include: Prof. Dina D’Ayala, Dr. Ahsana Vatteri, Dr. Rohit Adhikari, and Dr. Li Sun. The XU resource persons who helped place local context and perspectives in the Philippine setting are: Dr. Anabel Abuzo, Engr./EnP. Jefferson Vallente Jr, and Dexter Lo. The information gathered during the workshop will be fed to high-computing models to simulate possible disaster scenarios in the city. Strong and weak points can be captured in these models to come up with recommendations for risk reduction strategies and help build the resilience of schools and communities. The results will be shared back to stakeholders next year.
During the workshop, participants expressed the importance of such an event where they can freely discuss with other government agencies about their concerns on school building conditions, repairs, and uses during and after disasters. Items on accessibility and transport facilities were also highlighted by both school users and concerned government offices. They look forward to the results and recommendations of the project.
This present UCL - XU collaboration comes from almost a decade-long partnership for advocating safe schools and resilient communities. From 2016 to 2019, UCL, XU, and De La Salle University, partnered for the SCOSSO and PRISMH Projects. One of its knowledge products is a publication titled Resilient Communities through Safer Schools, which was recently cited by Elsevier as: “linked to the UN SDGs, helping to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges.”