School repairs on

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

AT LEAST 359 classrooms in northern Cebu need to be replaced, while 1,809 others need repairs, but much of the work won’t be done in time for the opening of classes in June.

During the launch of the Brigada Eskwela in Bantayan Island yesterday, Department of Education (DepEd) 7 Director Carmelita Dulangon revealed that while most students are eager to go back to school on June 2, some of them will have to attend classes in damaged classrooms.

Northern Cebu’s schools need “more than a Band-Aid solution” after being damaged or, in some cases, ruined by the quake last Oct. 15 and typhoon Yolanda less than four weeks later.


Dulangon thanked non-government organizations and private groups for being willing to provide help, such as constructing new classrooms and repairing others.

The Brigada Eskwela, held every third week of May, encourages members of the community to help prepare schools for the reopening of classes.

Activities include repainting of classrooms, cleanup of school grounds and repairs of desks, chairs and other facilities. Commercial establishments are asked to donate materials like paint and cement, while students, parents and teachers volunteer to do the work.

This year’s Brigada, the first since the natural calamities that struck the Visayas last year, highlighted the fact that government can’t finish or pay for all the rehabilitation work on its own.

“I encourage the private sector to continue to support our schools,” said Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes, in a message he delivered in his city’s Brigada Eskwela opening program.

In Cebu City, close to 700 classrooms in different schools need repairs, DepEd City Schools Division Superintendent Rhea Mar Angtud disclosed.

She said, though, that there will be enough classrooms when classes start next month.

Twenty-four classrooms damaged during the 7.2-magnitude earthquake are being repaired, and the work is expected to be completed by June, she said.

Safety checks

While private foundations, companies and government offices pledged to share their resources when schools in need, local officials also pointed out that safety measures have to be in place.

“We have looked into not only the aspect of cleanliness and sanitation of the schools but also the safety of the students because we have learned our lessons during the recent calamities,” Acting Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella told reporters.

He inspected emergency exits in the school buildings he visited to make sure students are safe in emergency situations.

He visited the elementary schools in Mabolo, Guadalupe, Labangon, Punta Princesa, Inayawan, Mambaling, Pardo, San Nicolas and Don Vicente Rama, as well as the Ramon Duterte National High School and Pardo National High School.

The DepEd reported that based on their assessment, Yolanda caused around P700 million in damage to public classrooms in northern Cebu.

The regional office is set to construct 28 classrooms. But the DepEd head office in Manila has plans to finance the construction of 400 classrooms in calamity-affected areas in the Visayas.

That will take time, Dulangon said, because the bidding process has to be followed.

Private help

In the meantime, private groups are pitching in.

The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) has committed to shoulder the construction of 61 classrooms and to repair 68 others.

In Cebu City, 446 elementary school classrooms need fixing. So do 245 classrooms in secondary school.

Superintendent Angtud and other DepEd personnel went around the city to check as the Brigada Eskwela proceeded.

In the Abellana National School (ANS), personnel and officials of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) pledged to give construction materials to repair damaged classrooms.

ANS Principal Severina Chin told Sun.Star Cebu that the BSP chose to adopt one classroom for a makeover. It also spearheaded the repairs and repainting of the entire structure, including the chairs and toilets.

“We are lucky to receive more pledges,” Chin added.

Chin said only minor repairs were needed in some of their classrooms since the buildings were all properly maintained.

ANS has 60 classrooms and 60 laboratory rooms.

Lacks rooms

After his inspection, Labella also said only minor repairs were needed in some schools and promised that City will help DepEd address the problem.

In Talisay City, school officials reported a shortage of classrooms in public schools spread throughout the city’s 22 barangays.

Dr. Woodrow Denuyo, Talisay City School Division superintendent, told Sun.Star Cebu that as of yesterday, they lacked 276 classrooms for the kindergarten, elementary and high school levels.

The city schools division plans to construct nine classrooms in public schools with the most number of students. These include the San Roque Elementary School, Bulacao National Elementary and High School, Tabunok Central School, Talisay Central School in Barangay Poblacion and Tapul National High School.

Denuyo said that instead of the usual single-storey classroom, they plan to construct three-storey classrooms to make the most of the limited space.

In Mandaue City, Mayor Cortes and DepEd Mandaue City Division Superintendent Virginia Zapanta led a ceremonial cleanup at the Subangdaku Elementary School.

Temporary setting

Among the establishments that support the Subangdaku Elementary School are the SM Hypermarket and Matimco Inc.

The school, which had more than 3,000 students last school year, was awarded best implementor of Brigada Eskwela in the country for two consecutive years.

The earthquake and typhoon damaged several school buildings in the city, forcing some teachers to hold classes in barangay gymnasiums.

The City Government has been partnering with nongovernment organizations like the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. and the Security Bank Foundation to address the city’s lack of classrooms.

Officials of the Subangdaku Elementary School hope to win a grand slam this year.

Principal Rosalina Gonzales said they start planning for the Brigada Eskwela as early as January.

But more than getting recognition, Zapanta said the main goal of the Brigada Eswela is to unite members of the community to address the needs of their school.

City councilors and Clean and Green workers of the City Hall also participated in yesterday’s activity, which was held simultaneously in schools across the city.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 20, 2014.

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