In October 2019, the Municipality of Patnongon in Antique conducted a Batang Empowered and Resilient Team (BERT) Roll Out. More than 200 students and 20 teachers from two districts attended the two-day activity at the Col. Ruperto Abellon Sr. Memorial School.
An initiative of the municipal government, the activity began with a short program with messages from representatives of the school and local government. Students and teachers also performed several intermission numbers. With the opening ceremonies done, Save the Children staff provided the child safeguarding orientation as well as the introduction to the BERT program. After which, the trainings were conducted and the students learned through an engaging and child-friendly approach. The teach back sessions were done on the last day to enhance and synthesize what the students learned in the two days.
In 2017, as part of the Local Empowerment through Access and Participation (LEAP) project, the BERT training commenced in ten sites in Northern Iloilo, particularly in the municipalities of Carles, San Dionisio, and Concepcion. It was then scaled up to select areas in Western Visayas.
After the successful conduct of trainings in the region, the province of Antique took notice of the initiative and its relevance. Richard Maza, Division DRRM Coordinator of Antique Province, said: “Maganda ang layunin at teaching, applicable to education sector.” (The program’s objective and approach to teaching are appropriate and applicable to the education sector.)
Though the scale up reached Antique province, not all schools were trained. Thus, Maza and the rest of the municipal government organized and funded the roll out in Patnongon and invited Save the Children as resource persons to conduct the training. Maza believes that the child-centered approach that BERT employs is an effective tool in implementing disaster risk reduction (DRR).
“Dahil sa peer facilitating, madaling madisseminate yung learnings sa school. Ma-i-echo sa kanilang family and community making our province resilient,” (Because of the peer facilitation method, it will be easier to disseminate their learnings in the school. They will also echo these to their families and communities, making our province resilient), he shared.
Since its beginnings in the LEAP project funded by Prudence Foundation, the BERT initiative has shown great promise and has promoted child-centered DRR in numerous areas in Western Visayas. The roll out in Patnongon is a clear sign that local governments recognize its strengths and are willing to invest in the effort and institutionalize BERT to improve their communities’ resilience.