NEW BATAAN, Compostela Valley (MindaNews/07 June) – Children enrolled at the Andap Elementary School here will have to bear holding classes in makeshift classrooms inside the Andap National High School compound until new school buildings are built for them.
When the new elementary classrooms would rise, principal Maria Diazon has no definite answer.
She told MindaNews last Monday that they will hold classes in six makeshift classrooms inside the high school premises—three under tents and the rest made of light materials.
Kindergarten and Grade One students are holding classes in two high school classrooms. Elementary teachers utilize another extra room as their office.
Of the 15 elementary classrooms, only one was left as the rest were destroyed by flashfloods triggered by Typhoon “Pablo” last December. Since January, elementary classes have been relocated inside the high school compound.
While the Department of Education has allocated P7 million for the building of classrooms, Diazon said they were told that the Mines and Geosciences Bureau did not give a clearance to build a new school site in Barangay Andap.
“Our problem is the school site,” she said.
In February, Mayor Lorenzo Balbin Jr. cited a map prepared by the Department of Science and Technology, which shows that only 189.19 hectares are safe for relocation or just 0.27 percent of the 68,860-hectare total land area of New Bataan town.
Areas covered by Typhoon Pablo’s debris –a mixture of mud, rocks and boulders—spanned 2,472 hectares or “about the size of Makati City,” according to the DOST briefer.
The town’s population as of May 2010 was 47,470, 7,550 of whom live in Barangay Andap, which was covered with rocks and boulders.
Kids still working
Diazon said they are expecting a drop in enrollment as some have already transferred to other places, adding the “final number of students will be known in the second week of classes.”
She said that some of their pupils, particularly those in Grade 6, may have been brought by their parents to other places to look for work.
“There are parents who ask their kids to work for money,” she said on Monday.
For his part, Oliver Tuyor, the high school principal, said that some of their students are still out helping their parents who are working in other places like in the small-scale mining sites.
Like her elementary counterpart, Tuyor said that they are expecting some their students to likely attend classes later this month.
The absence of economic opportunities in Andap had led some residents to look for sources of living elsewhere, both of them confirmed.
“The [food] ration is no longer frequent unlike in the previous months,” Tuyor said, citing this as one of the main reasons why residents are going to other places.
During the “Brigada Eskwela” (pre-school opening volunteer cleanup), he said that only a few males volunteered unlike in the previous years.
“They could be up there working in the small-scale mining sites,” he said.
Tuyor disclosed that 172 students attended the opening of classes last June 3, down from the 260 usual number of enrollees.
During the early enrollment last January, the school principal noted that 316 students have enlisted.
“It’s hard to say if all of them will surely go back to school,” he said.
When the typhoon hit last December, three of their students were killed while two others remain missing.
A week before the opening of classes, some teachers told MindaNews that three temporary classrooms are being built.
These classrooms were supposed to be made of lumber and tarpaulins.
But on May 28, the provincial government sent over a dozen plywood sheets, galvanized iron sheets and other building materials.
Elena Estrada, a Grade 3 teacher, told MindaNews that the materials were used to build the temporary classrooms, with each measuring 10 by 40 feet.
On Monday, Estrada held her class inside one of the temporary classrooms with 79 students while water was flowing across the room due to heavy rains.
The teacher instructed her pupils to sit on top of their desk to avoid getting wet.
A few minutes later, Estrada requested the carpenters who were still working on the two other temporary classrooms to install a tarpaulin that will catch water leaks from the roof.
She said that they don’t have enough sheets to be used as gutter of the roof.
As of June 3, while the Grades 4 and 5 students were holding their classes under makeshift tents from international aid agencies, the two temporary classrooms have yet to be completed.
During the initial stages of the construction, four carpenters have volunteered to work.
But when additional materials arrived, Diazon said they have been paying P350 each to the two skilled workers while P200 each to four other laborers.
The temporary classrooms are expected to be finished within the week depending on the weather condition.
Since they lost everything during the flashfloods, Diazon appealed for anybody who can donate a computer or even a typewriter.
She added that they need a computer or typewriter in preparing reports and other paper works. (Keith Bacongco /MindaNews)