Last September 9, we hosted a meeting with two of the top decision-makers in the Department of Education on Mindoro, Child Protection Specialist Mr. Oscar Linga and Public School District Supervisor of Puerto Galera, Ms. Nelia Castillo, along with Principal Mildren Cabuhal. It was their first time visiting Stairway.
During the partnership meeting, we had the chance to review an existing Memorandum of Agreement between DepEd Puerto Galera and Stairway. We presented a local baseline study on child protection that we did back in 2020 and 2021. The alarming number of cases of child sexual exploitation among boys and adolescent pregnancies, which were exacerbated during the pandemic, alarmed the DepEd people. Mr. Linga and Ms. Castillo admitted that they gave little attention to child protection because of the demands of distance learning, lack of human resources, and other academic concerns. After a fruitful exchange of experiences and ideas, the partners have now come to realize the severity and urgency of the situation and come to the conclusion that child protection issues significantly affect children’s education. And thus, taking action now is a must.
Building on that resolution, we shared our new strategies and approaches to child protection, including 1) our Child Protection E-learning Training Program for Educators, 2) Localization of School Child Protection Policy, and 3) Integration of Adolescent Health and Development. They showed their full support in all aspects.
The meeting ended with both parties joining hands to commit more substantially toward child protection. By September 19, 2022, more than 400 school heads and teachers from public and private elementary and high schools in Puerto Galera will have participated in Stairway’s government-accredited e-learning training program on child protection. This is a significant step towards creating a safer environment for children in and around the schools of Puerto Galera.