Strife-affected learners, teachers get support services
By Connie Calipay
LEGAZPI CITY --- Some 1,800 learners, teachers and non-teaching personnel who were affected by the recent encounters between government soldiers and the New People’s Army (NPA) in several towns of Masbate province have received psychosocial support services from the Department of Education (DepEd).
In an interview on Thursday, Maria Cristina Baroso, DepEd-5 (Bicol) Child Protection Focal Person, said psychological first aid (PFA) was one of the interventions requested by the affected schools during the visit of Vice President Sarah Duterte last week.
“The PFA interventions were for the 1,688 learners, 78 teachers, and 13 non-teaching personnel traumatized by the harassment of NPA rebels that usually ended in encounters with government troopers, conducted in the four affected schools from April 24-27, 2023,” Baroso said.
There were four schools identified as priorities for the intervention -- the Villahermosa Elementary School and Villahermosa National High School, both in Cataingan and the Lucsoan Elementary School and Arriesgado Servilleno National High School, both in Placer town.
ADDRESSING TRAUMA. Undated photo shows a Department of Education personnel facilitating a psychological first aid session for students affected by recent New People’s Army attacks in Masbate province. The intervention was provided to help the learners cope with the trauma they experienced. (Photo courtesy of DepEd-Bicol)
Baroso said that based on the psychological assessment conducted on April 24-27, five students were found to be “severely” traumatized and need to be closely monitored.
“Na-traumatized talaga, kinakabahan sila na baka maulit ung nangyari, and we recommend continous counselling. Some of the manifestations recorded by the registered psychologist, psychometrician, and guidance counselor with a specialization in trauma are some students started to detach from others, they don’t want to talk to other persons even in the community, nawalan ng gana mag aral, affected ang pagtulog and hindi na kumakain ng maayos. Meron din pag naalala ung nangyari eh talagang umiiyak (They are traumatized and nervous that it might happen again, and we recommend continuous counseling. Some of the manifestations recorded by the registered psychologist, psychometrician, and guidance counselor with a specialization in trauma are some students started to detach from others, they don’t want to talk to other persons even in the community, they lost the desire to study, their sleep was affected and they don’t eat properly anymore. There are also some students who cry when they remember what happened),” Baroso said.
The team also noted that the incidents aggravated some learners’ existing fears and emotional problems.
Baroso noted that during the visit of Duterte who is also the DepEd Secretary, she immediately addressed the need of the Villa Hermosa Elementary School for a perimeter fence that costs PHP1.2 million.
The Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS), Learners Rights and Protection Office (LRPO) and Bureau of Learners Support Services (BLSS) provided the psychological intervention to the pupils and teachers.
Aside from the PFA, all the learners received art materials and snacks during the activities.
Baroso said aside from four prioritized schools, they will also give PFA to neighboring schools until May. (PNA)