PASAY CITY, September 1, 2018 – To further ensure that the best interest of learners is always considered and realized, the Department of Education (DepEd) gathered around 400 child protection experts and advocates from government and non-government organizations for the first National Child Protection Summit last August 23 to 24 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
In her keynote speech, OIC – Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Josephine Maribojoc reaffirmed DepEd’s strong commitment to contribute to the implementation of the Philippine Plan of Action to End Violence against Children (PPAEVAC), especially on its Key Result Area (KRA) 2. The PPAEVAC was drawn up by government agencies, non-government partners from both the local and international community, and concerned individuals including children and their parents.
Maribojoc explained that the PPAEVAC’s KRA 2, in which DepEd is the lead agency, states that children and adolescents should demonstrate personal skills in managing risks, protecting themselves from violence, reporting their experience of violence, and seeking professional help when needed.
“In the launch of the PPAEVAC last May, I ended the Department of Education’s Statement of Commitment by saying that the end of violence against children is a dream we all share, and it has been said that ‘dreams will never end as long as we do not stop thinking about them’, but they will never come true until we start acting on them,” Maribojoc stated.
Rights-based approach to education
The OIC-Undersecretary further discussed the importance of having a holistic rights-based approach to education which shall reflect the universality and indivisibility of human rights. Citing the framework of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), this approach addresses three dimensions, namely: right of access to education; right to quality education; and right to respect in the learning environment.
Maribojoc also highlighted that there is a range of child’s rights in the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that should be applied and brought to life in the education sector. Citing the CRC framework of UNICEF, she shared that the said rights in the CRC are classified into three: survival and development; protection; and participation.
“Underlying these frameworks is the singular anchor of rights – the dignity of children as persons. The totality of these rights manifests and upholds their [children] inherent dignity as human beings, as subjects or persons with evolving capacities and maturity… Every child is a whole person possessed of rights, not half a person, or on the way to becoming a whole person to have rights,” Maribojoc explained.
Unwavering support from partners, community
Maribojoc expressed gratitude to the partners of DepEd, especially the UNICEF Philippines and Child Protection Network Foundation, not only for their invaluable support and contribution to this momentous event, but also for the cherished partnership in promoting child protection in schools nationwide.
Meanwhile, Undersecretary for Planning and Field Operations Jesus Mateo underscored anew the importance of collective responsibility in advancing the education system in the country, and called on all partners and stakeholders to further devise efforts that will ensure learners reach their full potential.
“We, in DepEd, fully believe and have always maintained that education is not just the Department’s responsibility… Let us be reminded of our responsibility to protect our learners from violence and abuse, and ensure there are no hindrances to them reaching their full potential through education,” Mateo said.
“This responsibility is definitely not an easy task as it will require unwavering commitment and dedication from each one of us, but it is, indeed, a worthy endeavor,” he ended.
Bata, Bata, Ating Kinakalinga
The summit carried the theme, “Bata, Bata, Ating Kinakalinga: Strengthening the Implementation of the Child Protection Policy,” and aimed to give the participants an opportunity to identify strategies that will further advance the implementation of the DepEd Order No. 40, s. 2012, or the Child Protection Policy, and thereby promote the best interest of all school children.
“At bottom, we are all human beings possessed of dignity. While children’s capacities and maturity are still evolving, they are nevertheless human beings deserving of equal respect like all of us. That is what “all human beings are born free and equal” means. . . Oo, bata, bata, ating kinakalinga, pero bata pa man sila, sila ay tao na – taong may dangal na karapat-dapat galangin tulad din ng bawat isa sa atin,” Maribojoc concluded.
One of the highlights of the summit was the simultaneous workshops on the following topics: (1) positive discipline; (2) online safety; (3) creating a functional child protection committee; (4) anti-bullying; (5) and safe schools for teens.
A series of panel discussions was also conducted which tackled the perspectives of the youth representative, teacher, and school head on DepEd’s Child Protection Policy; and the needs of vulnerable children.