Rotarians from Down Under donate computers to 3 poor schools in Davao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 March) – Ronaldo L. Seras, principal of the Slum Improvement Resettlement (SIR) Elementary School, beamed as his pupils tinkered with the computers recently acquired by the school, the first of such equipment donation it has received so far.

As early as this year, he planned to scale up the method of teaching in the school, one of three public schools in the city’s largest barangay (Barangay 76-A) of more than 250,000 residents, immediately after he received in January the 10 computers from the International Rotary Club of Tasmania in Australia.

Beginning next school year, when the 12-year basic education system would be fully implemented, he said pupils would be required to conduct basic research using the Internet for their class assignments.

If done, research skills would set off this school apart from the insufficient education training in the almost all cramped, undermanned and severely ill-equipped public elementary schools in the country.

Although not strangers to computers and the Internet, the pupils were still awed and amazed finding them inside their school.

Avelina Chavez, volunteer librarian at the school, said the computers would boost the standing of the library housed in a dilapidated room and keeping outdated 3,000 sets of books donated several decades ago by the Ateneo de Davao University.

The plan to upgrade teaching tools was primarily due to the arrival of 10 hand-down computer units, to maximize their use.

The reconditioned units were used at the St. Brandon Shaw College in Tasmania, which just did the regular upgrade of their own sets of computers.

Jeremy Alomes, the information technology expert of the college who worked out with the Tasmania Rotary Club, was able to acquire 50 units from the school but he said that more of that number could be actually acquired for donation.

He said the computer donation, including the shipment, was worked out by Rotary clubs of Devonport, Ulverstone and Ulverstone West, all of Tasmania.

The computer units include accessories like printers, tables and chairs.

“We also brought 80 books of curriculum and reference materials, video presentation of elementary and high school lessons and other educational materials,” he said.

Two other schools received their allocation of 10 units – the Bucana Elementary School and the Kabacan Elementary School, all of Barangay 76-A. The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) identified the barangay as one of the “disparity” barangays which lacked basic social service facilities.

Barangay Kagawad Nancy Cortes identified the three schools to be the beneficiary immediately after she was informed last year by her niece, Jhasmane, the wife of Alomes, that the computer donation she negotiated had been approved for shipment.

Cortes initiated contact for possible computer donation with the Rotarians in Tasmania in 2010 after discussing it with her niece. The donation was finalized after a Rotarian representative visited last year the three schools that Cortes identified as the beneficiary.

“The Rotary has been very convinced of the poor state of the schools, that’s why they approved of the donation,” she said.

The computers were shipped in March last year, and Cortes sought the help of friends, including Pablito P. Parilla, a former governor of a local Rotary Club here, to defray the shipping expenses from Manila to Davao City. (MindaNews)