One million children have education disrupted as typhoon destroys schools in Philippines

School In Philippines Damaged By Typhoon Mangkhut
Severe structural damage at Don Mariano Marcos High School in Gattaran, Cagayan (UNICEF / Jeffrey Maitem)

Thousands of classrooms were damaged by powerful winds or flooded after the world's biggest storm of 2018.

A large number of schools have been destroyed by the “super typhoon” that devastated the Philippines – and more than one million children could have their education disrupted for some time.

Authorities are still trying to verify the extent of the damage caused in remote areas by Typhoon Mangkhut, which killed at least 65 people and left many missing.

UNICEF Philippines said today that thousands of schools “have been affected by the storm”. Save the Children said 4300 schools – with over one million students – are closed because they are damaged or being used as shelters.

According to the charity, the Philippines education department reported at least 170 schools suffered flooding and almost 2000 classrooms were destroyed or damaged.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said: “It is tearful looking at the damaged schools. The books and computers were really covered with mud and destroyed. “

Typhoon Mangkhut – the world’s biggest storm this year with wind gusts of almost 190 miles per hour – also left a path of destruction in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China. In the Philippines, it tore trees out of the ground and caused dozens of landslides.

“We’re really concerned about the long-term impact of the typhoon on children, particularly those who aren’t able to go back to school,” said Save the Children’s Jerome Balinton from Tuguegarao City in northern Luzon.

‘Hundreds of classrooms have been totally destroyed. Some had roofs ripped from their foundations while others were crushed by falling trees. 

“It will be a huge task to clear the rubble and repair or rebuild classrooms, not to mention replacing damaged tables and chairs, and learning materials that perished in the storm.

“While we are working around the clock to provide immediate life-saving support, these children will most certainly need extra care and support in the coming days, weeks and months.”

Phillippines Typhoon

Typhoon Mangkhut swept across the Philippines, causing havoc and destruction (World Vision Australia / Twitter)

In the wake of a natural disaster, it is crucial that children return to schools as quickly as possible.

Without an education, children are at risk of child labour, child marriage or other forms of exploitation. A child who is out of school for more than a year is unlikely to return.

In emergency situations, education can give displaced or traumatised children a sense of structure and direction. A safe place to play and learn can help children heal by providing a return to familiar routines.

Police in the Philippines said yesterday that more than 155,000 people remain in evacuation centres two days after the typhoon struck.

In southern China, more than three million people have been evacuated from the path of Mangkhut.