Climate change disrupts education for millions in Philippines

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

More than 26 million students enrolled across the Philippines are enduring the severe effects of climate change, which threaten their education by causing school calendar changes and class suspensions due to increasingly violent weather events.

The alarming statistic is part of a global crisis that disrupts the education of approximately 75 million children annually.

“In the past four years, we have experienced changes in the school calendar and mode of delivery due to the pandemic and to adapt to the changing climate, on top of all the class suspensions due to frequent typhoons. We are yet facing another calendar shift due to El Nino,” said Rohj Olivo, a 17-year-old climate campaigner.

Olivo, a dedicated youth advocate for Save the Children Philippines, represented his peers at the 11th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development in Thailand. There, he discussed the vital rights of children to a healthy environment with notable UN figures, asserting the need for uninterrupted access to education amidst climate crises.

“Our argument is clear: in the midst of climate change, government action should ensure that we have uninterrupted access to quality education, and to effectively solve this problem, leaders must not only listen to children and youth’s voices but also heed our wisdom, for it is our future that hangs in the balance,” Olivo emphasized.

At the forum, Congresswoman Ma. Cynthia King Chan highlighted the significance of R.A. 10821, or the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act, in safeguarding educational continuity for affected children.

Save the Children Philippines has actively supported this legislation, ensuring its implementation across regions. Chan also acknowledged initiatives such as incorporating climate change into curriculums and the Green School Program, which aim to make nearly 47,000 public schools more resilient to climate change.

“By imparting knowledge, and skills, and fostering critical thinking in our children, we empower them to become climate champions,” Chan articulated.

Further, the organization’s Comprehensive School Safety and Quality Assurance System programs, active in thousands of schools and barangays, are essential to fostering climate literacy and resilience among children and communities.

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