TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Life goes on at a public elementary school here seven months after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit. But so much work needs to be done.
“We started classes last June 2. But we still entertain late enrollees, and others who were out of school that want to go back,” said Niceta Galura, school principal of Sagkahan Elementary School in an interview with INQUIRER.net recently.
Last school year, there were 1,996 students enrolled at the public school. When school opened this year, there were about 1,700.
“But more are still coming,” Galura said.
Yolanda, the most powerful storm in recent world history, not only affected millions and killed thousands of lives when it wreaked havoc last November 8, but also destroyed infrastructures. In schools, classes were temporarily halted last year because of the destruction left by the storm.
The schools also served as evacuation shelters.
Galura said they expect the new enrollees from students moving from private to public schools and those living in bunkhouses.
Sagkahan Elementary School caters to 14 villages and is the most populated in a non-central school.
Galura said that kindergarten and Grade 1 pupils are taking classes in temporary learning shelters donated by the Chinese Red Cross.
The school is a recipient of a 42-classroom repair from the Department of Education, but the rehabilitation has not yet started.
“I was informed [last May] by our superintendent that there was a memo [that I was a recipient of the 42-classroom repair] together with other schools in Tacloban,” Galura said.
Students returned to school this week, and most of them who were in areas that were devastated by Yolanda, have had to deal with makeshift classrooms and tents.
More help came from NGOs
The school principal admitted that most of the help they received after Yolanda struck came from non-government organizations.
“If I have to be specific with Sagkahan Elementary School, kung titingnan ko yung mga tulong na dumarating, most of the help are coming from the NGOs,” Galura said.
The DepEd, for its part, was able to give teachers financial assistance. The Department of Public Works and Highways also helped in roof construction.
“As to rebuilding of our school, the Unicef repaired 12 classrooms, roofing and re-ceilings. I don’t know if it’s an NGO, but a monk repaired a classroom. Our fencing was a project of Mabuhay Global,” she said.
The Unicef also extended help through its WASH program, a campaign to raise awareness on water, sanitation and hygiene.
The DepEd said recently that at least 2,313 new classrooms have to be built and 17,757 others have to be repaired in the Yolanda-hit areas. It is estimated to cost P5.3 billion.
Construction will start once a bidding contract is awarded.
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