GINGOOG CITY, Misamis Oriental, – Early Learning Center (ELC) of Barangay 18 in Gingoog City proactively aligned its operations making it compliant with the provisions of Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act (DRRM Act), touted as a landmark legislation for DRRM in the country.
The learning center has been a recipient to the Gawad Kalasag award, the country’s premier annual awards for excellent contribution in DRRM and humanitarian assistance. For this year, it qualifies to be a hall of fame awardee for the Gawad Kalasag’s ELC category.
According to Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Region 10 Director Rosauro Arnel Gonzales Jr, through the Gawad Kalasag, the regional and national DRRM councils recognize programs, activities, and projects that protect high-risk communities against hazards and provide more capabilities in addressing vulnerabilities and coping from disasters.
Child Development Worker (CDW) Helen Tagupa said establishing an ELC that nurtures the holistic development of the child in a safe environment, the Barangay 18 constructed its learning center in an 882 sq.m. area (with the learning area comprising 504 sq.m.) and fenced with a non-climable barrier.
The learning center is accessible to children including children with special needs. The area is more than the required area for Child Development Centers (CDCs) issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). It is free from hazards—busy streets, water hazards, broken glass, and dangerous machinery or tools.
Per the standards and guidelines for center-based early childhood programs for zero to four years old Filipino children, Tagupa said the center’s layout encourages both active physical and at the same ensuring the safety of children.
The center is also laid out in a manner that whatever the children’s activities, they are visible to child development worker at all times. In addition, certain areas in the center are covered with foam mats to ensure children’s safety, especially during active play.
Furniture and shelves are fitted to children’s height. Children can easily reach toys and materials that they may need. Shelves are sturdily built so it won’t topple over so easily.
Further, tables, chairs, shelves, storage racks are child-sized. They are sturdy and durable and won't topple easily. They are easy to clean and disinfected.
The center’s play area is filled with lightweight, non-toxic toys and covered with foam mats to ensure safety during free play.
The CDW and parent aid have been trained on how to use the fire extinguisher and routinely participate in various drills such as fire suppression and basic life support. The CDW as well parents and children has a whistle and flashlight attached to their identification to ensure that they have them at all times.
The center has also a gated exit to ensure that children will not loiter outside the center premises and at the same time keeps out strangers and unauthorized persons.
The center, meanwhile, has been very fortunate to be given by the local government unit of Gingoog City the covered pathway for the children and parents.
Water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities
The center’s water is supplied by Gingoog’s water district and has a certificate of the water’s potability.
Faucets and water containers are routinely washed and scrubbed to avoid molds and dust contaminating water. The toilets are relatively private spaces with low doors that allow adult supervision. They are functional and child-size.
The center’s handwashing/tooth brushing area is equipped with faucets and washing/brushing materials accessible to children and within children’s reach. The area is appropriate to the child’s size to allow proper washing/brushing habits to develop.
To ensure the safety of electrical connections, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) regularly inspects the center.
Emergency telecoms facilities—has a broadband radio, with fresh batteries, given by the barangay to be used during power outage and emergencies.
Punong Barangay Rogelio Pajaron said the Barangay 18 Council has issued a memorandum to the Barangay Tanods to patrol the perimeter of the center especially during school hours and at night.
The center has not only issued identification cards to its enrolled children but to their parents or guardians as well. This is to ensure that the child will be picked up only by the parent, guardian or person designated by the parents.
In case a parent cant pick up his/her child, he/she must inform the CDW beforehand of the person who will pick up the child instead of his/her. The designated person will then show proof of identification to the CDW when picking up the child.
Children’s ID not only contain the name and number of the emergency contact person but it also includes a flashlight and a whistle to be used during emergencies.
First aid kits, referrals
As part of the standard and guidelines for center-based early childhood programs for zero to four years old set by the Early Childhood Care and Development Council, the center is equipped with first aid kit. A handy first aid kit is available in case of evacuation during emergencies.
The barangay issued a memorandum to the barangay health worker to provide medical intervention to any child enrolled at the center and to refer any child requiring more advanced medical attention to any hospital in the city using the stand-by vehicles or available vehicles of the barangay.
Tagupa, is a 20-year veteran of early childhood education. She is a multi-awarded CDW with four regional and two national Gawad Kalasag awards as best early learning center. Tagupa is also an accredited CDW.
She has been named as outstanding CDW of the province of Misamis Occidental for two times.
The province of Misamis Oriental, in which Barangay 18, Gingoog City belongs has four active fault lines—Magsaysay Linugos Fault, Gingoog Fault (moving fault), Cabanglasan Fault and Tagoloan River Fault. An earthquake occurring in Gingoog is not improbable; hence, learners are trained on what to do during an earthquake and how to be prepared.
Barangay 18 is a coastal barangay and last April 2018, disaster struck when a number of houses were burned to the ground. Because of this, the barangay council as well as the parents of the Child Development Center preschoolers’ and CDW, participated in a fire drill wherein they utilize seawater to extinguish the flames. Children were also taught how to use a floatation device, life jacket.
The center, as a public institution is supervised and managed by the government unit of Barangay 18 thus, the center worker is thus a member of the barangay’s DRRM organizational structure.
The CDW as well parents and children has a whistle and flashlight attached to their IDs to ensure they have them at all times. (eor/PIA)