MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 13 June) — Where have all the school children of Marawi gone?
Gone to evacuation centers and relatives’ houses in Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon, as families in 95 of 96 barangays fled the besieged city since clashes between government forces and the terrorist Maute Group began on May 23.
The three-week battle has displaced a total of 309,924 persons in Marawi City and 13 barangays in neighboring Marantao town in Lanao del Sur, as of 7 p.m. on June 12, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information (DSWD DROMIC) Report No. 36.
Of this number, 283,134 persons were displaced from 95 barangays in the city, the families fleeing to various parts of the country: nine municipalities in Lanao del Sur (Bacolod-Kalawi, Balbagan, Calanogas, Kaptagan, Madalum, Madamba, Malabang, Pagayawan and Saguiaran), neighboring towns of Balo-i, Pantar, Pantao Ragat and Iligan City in Lanao del Norte, to Cagayan de Oro in Misamis Oriental.
Citing records from the Department of Education’s Marawi Division, Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson of the Provincial Crisis Management Committee (PCMC) said there were 22,222 children enroled in public elementary, high school and senior high school last year.
They are now in various evacuation centers but most are home-based or those who sought refuge in relatives’ houses. Only a few have managed to resume schooling as a result of the Marawi diaspora.
The city has 73 public schools and 45 private schools although that figure will no longer be the same once the areas are cleared and the schools destroyed during the fighting or by aerial bombing are counted.
Adiong said as of June 12, a partial list shows seven schools reported to have been damaged: Raya Madaya 1 Elementary School and Raya Madaya 2 Pilot School were burned; Dansalan Primary School is “partially damaged,”Banggolo Elementary School is “damaged,” Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School was “bombed / partially damaged,” Mamintal Disomangcop Central Elementary School was “damaged/bombed” and Mambuay Elementary School was “bombed.”
Of the 73 public schools in this city, 61 are elementary schools, eight are secondary schools and four are senior high schools.
The war displaced 22,222 students in public schools and 2,102 public school teachers: 1,676 in elementary, 401 in the secondary and 25 in senior high school.
As of June 9, the DepEd Marawi Division’s report shows that 2,161 elementary students and 378 high school students have been tracked down in Iligan City. They have also tracked down 12 students in faraway Pangasinan under the DepEd’s Urdaneta Division, eight elementary and two high school students in Zambales, 30 in Cebu City and 30 in North Cotabato.
A total of 674 teachers have also been tracked down. Initial reports show nine of the teachers lost their homes to fire.
At the press briefing in Malcanang on June 8, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said “one notable feature” of this year’s school opening is “the welcome accorded to all children-evacuees from Marawi City.”
She said the usual documentary requirements for enrolment have been waived for children evacuees from Marawi, in accordance with Memorandum 98 which she issued on June 2, on emergency measures for the displaced Marawi residents.
“We have waived the usual documentary requirements. After all, children are not involved in any of these activities at this time. .. We have encouraged them to enroll in the school nearest to where they have evacuated,” she said.
“Basta sasabihin lang taga-Marawi sila, tatanggapin sila. Saka na lang ‘yung mga requirements later” (They only need to say they’re from Marawi and they will be accepted. The requirements can come in later,” the Education Secretary added.
Briones noted that Marawi students have enrolled in “as far as Tarlac.” That was on June 8. But the DepEd’s Marawi Division has tracked down Marawi students who have enrolled in places farther away — in Pangasinan and Zambales in Luzon.
Briones cited initial records showing how many displaced Marawi students have enrolled in other parts of the country: “1,391 children from Marawi City who are now enrolled in our schools outside of Marawi City.”
Of this number, 1,147 enroled in Region 10 (Northern Mindanao): 705 in Lanao del Norte, 338 in Iligan City and 104 in Misamis Oriental, 169 in Region 12’s General Santos City, Cotabato City, 50, Cotabato province, Tacurong City, Koronadal City, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani, Kidapawan City.
“We also a significant number in Region VII in Cebu because we have a large Muslim community. We have 34 new learners just in two divisions alone,” she said, and in Manila, at least 35.
Enroll your children
Briones said they continue to encourage the displaced families “to enroll their children wherever they are in the nearest school,” Briones said, adding that “originally, we thought that classes can open within two weeks.”
Briones said they are still ” waiting for the advice of our military advisers on when Marawi will finally be ready for the opening of schools.”
Classes in all public schools in the country started on June 5.
Briones called on displaced Marawi families to “please enroll your children in the nearest school because they can always return (to the Marawi schools) if they wish to” later.
She explained that National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. had proposed that classes in Marawi open on June 19, two weeks after June 5 offical start of the schoolyear.
She said Esperon suggested that the school opening in Marawi not be held on June 5. He quoted Esperson as saying in Filipino that “even if we take over, we recover Marawi, we still need to do clearing operations. For all you know, they might leave something in the buildings as well as other surprises.”
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had earlier said the Marawi Crisis would be over by June 2.
Citing the developments in Marawi, Briones said they cannot say if classes could open by June 19. “The way things are, baka the extension might be longer,” he said.
Briones said that as of June 6, “at least six big business organizations have already expressed .. interest… in the repair of the school buildings that .. are .. damaged (and would require) financial assistance, etc.”
She said the military’s Engineering Brigade “will move in and do the repair work” once the fighting ends. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)