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Mandatory Swimming Lessons and Safety Rescue Skills Lessons Should Be Taught In PH Schools
  • Lawmakers want to include swimming as a mandatory subject in the K-12 Basic Education Curriculum. CNN Philippines reported.

    House Bill No. 3495, otherwise known as the Drowning Prevention Act, seeks to make swimming classes mandatory in private and public schools in the elementary and secondary levels to equip kids with the survival skills to prevent deaths drowning.

    Drowning is the third major cause of accidental death around the world, according to data provided by the World Health Organization (WHO).It claims the lives of 372,000 people a year worldwide, not yet including 66 countries. It means a person dies of accidental drowning every 90 seconds.

    In the Philippines, drowning is the second leading cause of death among Filipino children below 15 years old, and the fourth highest cause of death from injury in the Philippines, according to data from the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

    Under the proposed measure, the Department of Education (DepEd), with the help of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), would determine the course length of water safety lessons as part of the Music Arts Physical Education and Health (MAPEH) core academic area. It requires a trained instructor or certified lifeguard to conduct swimming lessons in a "safe and controlled environment." Apart from swimming, the lessons would also include rescue skills, such as first aid and basic life support.

    The NDRRMC to develop a "drowning prevention plan," including risk factors and preventive measures, to serve as a guide for schools and other institutions working to reduce drowning incidents. Local government units would also formulate a community action plan based on the NDRRMC's plan.

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    “At the moment there is no water safety in [the Philippine] school curriculum,” Dr. Caroline Lukaszyk, WHO consultant and regional data coordinator for violence & injury prevention, told ABS-CBN News. Currently, swimming lessons are included in the Philippine K to 12 curriculum, but only as one of the sports activities students may take, along with gymnastics, boxing, and more.

    DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones agreed that swimming lessons for children need to be more “extensive.” However, it's not feasible for all public schools. “Kasi there are local governments and places where they don’t need it anymore because lifestyle nila 'yun e,” Briones added.Many public schools also do not have the facilities nor the funds to build swimming pools to conduct water safety subjects.

    Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committee on basic education, suggested that the DepEd and local schools can collaborate with private schools to use their facilities. "Activities like these can be done in the same way we equip students with the skills and readiness for disasters like fires and earthquakes,” he told ABS-CBN News. Local government units and agencies, non-profit organizations, civil society groups, and private companies can also help.

    In Norway, the government encourages parents to start teaching swimming lessons to kids as young as age 4. In school, children take mandatory swimming lessons until grade four, while grade five to ten students undergo training for rescue and life-saving techniques. Kids in Bangladesh, where experts say 9 drowning deaths occur daily, take their swimming lessons in ponds made into improvised pools.

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    Learn more about when kids should start swimming lessons here.

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