Kids in Pablo-hit village to hold classes under tents

NEW BATAAN, Compostela Valley (MindaNews/28 May) – Elementary pupils in Barangay Andap will hold their classes under makeshift tents when classes open on Monday, teachers said.

Only one of 15 classrooms of Andap Elementary School was left due to flashfloods spawned by heavy rains when super Typhoon Pablo hit on December 4 last year.  The school has been abandoned and since January, classes in the Elementary have been relocated to the compound of the Andap National High School.

Elena Estrada, a Grade 3 teacher, told MindaNews she will be holding her classes in a makeshift classroom inside the Andap High School compound.

Each class will have around 75 pupils due to lack of classrooms, said Estrada.

Before the typhoon,  each classroom would not exceed 40 pupils, she added.

Elementary teachers in their borrowed classroom in  Barangay Andap, New Bataan, Compostela Valley province on May 27, 2013. The elementary school was destroyed by super typhoon Pablo on December 4, 2012 and  since January, classes have been temporarily  relocated within the compound of the Andap National High School. MindaNews photo by Keith Bacongco
Elementary teachers in their borrowed classroom in Barangay Andap, New Bataan, Compostela Valley province on May 27, 2013. The elementary school was destroyed by super typhoon Pablo on December 4, 2012 and since January, classes have been temporarily relocated within the compound of the Andap National High School. MindaNews photo by Keith Bacongco

“There will be merging of sections in all grade levels. So that would mean double the number of pupils than the required number,” explained Janine Galula, a Grade 5 teacher.

Galula said this is what they call team teaching.

But the kindergarten and grade one pupils will hold classes in two borrowed classrooms from the high school department.

Estrada said only kindergarten and grade one pupils were given priority because makeshift classrooms may affect their learning.

“Lisud pud kay mga gagmay pa man na sila, unya kung mag ulan o hangin kusog, luoy sila,” (It’s difficult for them because they’re still small, what a pity if it rains or the winds blow hard) the teacher explained.

Last Monday, Galula said around 50 pupils had enrolled. But she expects most of  the pupils will enroll on June 3, the first day of classes.

“This has been the habit here of the pupils and parents. They would enroll on the first day of classes,” she added.

Cyen Claire Alimento, an incoming Grade 7 student, told MindaNews that she has not enrolled yet.

“Sa Lunes na ko mag enroll” (I will enrol on Monday), said Alimento who was helping her grandmother cook and sell pancakes at the junction going to the school.

Last school year, Galula said they had 446 pupils, but 50 of them died when super typhoon Pablo hit their village.

Fifteen pupils transferred a month after the storm.

Estrada said the number of pupils for this school year will be known next week.

Volunteer carpenters build a makeshift classroom for elementary pupils in Barangay Andap, New Bataan, Compostela Valley province on May 27, 2013. The only elementary school in Andap was destroyed by typhoon Pablo on December 4 last year. MindaNews photo by Keith Bacongco
Volunteer carpenters build a makeshift classroom for elementary pupils in Barangay Andap, New Bataan, Compostela Valley province on May 27, 2013. The only elementary school in Andap was destroyed by typhoon Pablo on December 4 last year. MindaNews photo by Keith Bacongco

Volunteer carpenters

After the storm, the teachers said they resumed classes in mid-January but they had make-up classes every Saturday since they were not able to complete the school days in December.

They added they held classes in the makeshift classrooms made of light materials.

“During heavy rains, strong winds blew away the roof and walls since they were made of tarpaulins,” Estrada recalled.

To decongest the number of pupils in each section, she added that an additional makeshift classroom is being built by volunteer carpenters.

Romeo Secretaria, one of the carpenters, told MindaNews that a village official asked around who could help in building the makeshift classroom.

Secretaria, a farmer who knows a little carpentry, said he volunteered because his sons are also incoming Grades 5 and 6 pupils.

“The lumber was given for free but the teachers provided the gasoline for the chainsaw that was used in cutting,” he said.

Noli Villasan said that he volunteered because the village has only a few carpenters.

“Kaluoy man sa mga bata, wala na eskwelahan,” (I pity the children, they have no place to hold classes) said Villasan, who usually earns P350 a day from his work as carpenter.

Galula said they received new armchairs from the Tagum City government through its Care for School Chairs Program.

“The ratio of chairs is one is to one pero kaluoy lang tan-awon ang mga classroom kay tents og kahoy (but the classrooms are a pathetic sight because they are made of tents and wood),” she noted.

But the teachers said  they would be grateful to those who can donate school supplies to the pupils.

The teachers bring their records and other documents home since they have no cabinets.

“It’s quite heavy, it’s like bringing an entire cabinet but we have no choice,” Galula said.

The teachers said the Department of Education has prepared a budget to construct new buildings but their problem is the school site.

They added that the Mines and Geosciences Bureau has not yet identified a safe school site.

“We don’t know where we would build our school because it seems there is no safe place here,” they said.

Citing  maps prepared by the Department of Science and Technology , New Bataan mayor Lorenzo Balbin said during a Task Force Pablo briefing in February that  only 189.19 hectares  or 0.27%   of  the  town’s 68,860 hectare total land area. are safe for relocation.(Keith Bacongco / MindaNews)

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