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3rd ASEAN REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON SCHOOL SAFETY in Bangkok, 3 – 4 April 2019

The 3rd  ASEAN Regional Conference on School Safety was held on 2-4 April 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. This regional conference aims to gather representatives from the Ministries of Education (MOEs) and the National Disaster Management Offices (NDMOs) in ASEAN as well as from key partners and stakeholders to discuss and assess ASEAN’s progress in its school safety efforts in the last five years. The conference was also a venue for stakeholders’ learning exchanges and to start the dialogue in determining the direction and strategies of ASSI post-2020.

Specifically, the Conference aimed to: 

  1. Provide a platform for the ASEAN Member States to share their national and local strategies and priorities in DRR in Education,
  2. Discuss school safety-related researches and actions on emerging risks and other  school safety concerns  or  priorities  in  South  East  Asia  (i.e.  climate  change  impacts,  urban  risks,  community resilience, gender, disability, school safety in conflicts areas, violence in schools, etc.),
  3. Promote innovative tools and methodologies relevant for school safety through thematic forums, market place, and ignite presentations,
  4. Introduce and discuss the ASEAN Guidelines for Comprehensive School Safety Progress Reporting,
  5. Recognize school safety champions who have demonstrated commitments on school safety and made significant impacts on their communities, and
  6. Discuss and recommend ways forward for ASEAN Safe Schools Initiative (ASSI) post-AADMER WP and ASEAN Work Plan on Education, including identifying resource mobilization and sustainability strategies and engagement of wider stakeholder groups.

The 3rd  ASEAN Regional School Safety Conference hosted about 100 participants from all over the ASEAN and from neighbouring regions. Among the target participants were the following: 

  • Top/senior officials from the National Disaster Management Offices (NDMO) in ASEAN;
  • Top/senior officials from the Ministries of Education (MOE) in ASEAN;
  • Senior government officials from other relevant line agencies involved in school safety work (i.e.
  • Public Works, Finance, Development Planning, etc.);
  • Local school authorities in ASEAN, teachers, and students;
  • ASEAN Secretariat;
  • ASSI Consortium Partners (Plan International, World Vision, Save the Children, Mercy Malaysia);
  • and members of the Asia Pacific Coalition on School Safety (APCSS);
  • Other regional partners and stakeholders (i.e. private sectors, academe, youth groups, etc.).

Plenary session group photo

At this conference, Vietnam Red Cross sent delegate to participate and share presentation on lessons learnt/best practices on awareness raising on drowning prevention in Vietnam. Vietnam's Delegation to this conference, besides Vietnam Red Cross, were also representatives from Vietnam Disaster Management Authority (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) and Department of Facilities under Ministry of Education and Training.

Delegate from Vietnam Red Cross presented at the Conference

In this conference, Vietnam Red Cross was awarded by ASEAN Ministries of Education with "Champion on ASEAN School Safety 2019". This award is aiming to recognize and honour individuals and organizations with outstanding contributions to School Safe in the region. 

Vietnam Red Cross was awarded with the 2019 ASEAN School Safety Champion

Southeast Asia is one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world. More than 50 percent of the global disaster mortalities took place in ASEAN from 2004 to 2014 with about 354,000 fatalities. During the same period,  about  191  million  people  were  temporarily  displaced,  and  another  193  million  people  were affected or experienced different types of losses due to disasters.

The education sector is highly affected by disasters and other risks owing to a large amount of time the children and teachers spend in schools. There have been many instances when children or teaching staff lost their lives or got injured in schools during disasters. Recent disasters in the ASEAN region damaged school facilities, especially those with poor building design, non-engineered construction, or site selection, which prevented students from accessing schools. Children’s education is also disrupted when schools are used  as  temporary  shelters  or  evacuation  areas  for  those  affected  by  disasters.  Major  setbacks  on development investments in the education sector are also experienced during disasters especially when risk reduction policies are not adequately prioritised.

Recognising the impacts of disasters on children and education sector, ASEAN has established the ASEAN Safe  Schools  Initiative  (ASSI)  which  promotes  a  comprehensive  integration  of  risk  reduction  in  the Education  Sector.  This  initiative  is  a  priority  of    the  ASEAN  Agreement  on  Disaster  Management  and Emergency  Response  (AADMER)  Work  Programme  2016-2020  (Priority  Programme  #2:  Building  Safe ASEAN Infrastructures and Essential Service) and the ASEAN Work Plan on Education 2016-2020  (Priority Area 5.2: Promoting inclusion of disaster risk reduction in national curriculum through support to relevant sectors’ initiatives).

To support the ASSI goals and Programme Strategy, ASSI, with the leadership of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) and Seniors Official Meeting on Education (SOM-ED), conducts a biennial regional conference as a venue for advocacy, discussion, and learning exchange among stakeholders on DRR in Education and School Safety in ASEAN.  The first ASEAN Regional Conference on School Safety, held in December 2015 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia saw the formal launch of the ASEAN Common Framework for  Comprehensive  School  Safety2  and  other  regional  tools  supporting  the  implementation  of  school disaster management in the region. The second ASEAN Regional Conference held in Bangkok, Thailand in February 2017, gathered the re-affirmation of ASEAN countries and other partners and stakeholders’ to continue  their  school  safety  efforts  in  alignment  with  the  country  commitments  to  contribute  in accomplishing the newly adopted AADMER Work Programme 2016-2020 and the ASEAN Regional Work Plan  on  Education  2016-2020  as  well  as  the  Sendai  Framework  for  DRR  2015-2030  targets  and  the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

This year, as we are heading towards the end of the ASEAN Programme Strategy 2017-2020, the 3rd ASEAN Regional Conference on School Safety focused on the assessment of the region’s progress in school safety work and in shaping the discussions toward outlining the ASEAN regional perspectives, approaches, and  strategies  on  school  safety  post-  AADMER  Work  Programme  2016-2020  and  ASEAN  Work  Plan on Education 2016-2020.

The conference featured the following events:

  • Plenary sessions
  • Thematic sessions
  • ASEAN School Safety Champion Awarding
  • Market place
  • Ignite presentations

Market place of Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

Market place of Vietnam

At the end of the 3rd ASEAN Regional School Safety Conference, the following were achieved: 

  • National and local priorities, strategies, sound practices, lessons learnt, and researches related to school safety are shared and discussed among the participants,
  • Innovative approaches, tools, publications, case studies, and resources supporting school safety implementation   are   showcased   through   the   marketplace,   thematic   sessions   and   ignite presentations,
  • The Guidelines to support the ASEAN Monitoring and Reporting on Comprehensive School Safety were introduced and discussed with the regional stakeholders,
  • School Safety Champions in ASEAN are recognized and awarded,
  • Ways forward for ASSI post- AADMER WP and ASEAN Work Plan on Education were discussed and recommendations for resource mobilisation and sustainability were gathered.

Delegates from Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in ASEAN region

Nguyen Vinh Hoa

International Relations Department - Vietnam Red Cross