Some schools in quake-stricken Cotabato still not ready for resumption of classes

MAKILALA, North Cotabato (MindaNews / 8 Nov) – Some schools here damaged by the series of strong quakes are still not fit for learners, a school official said.

Evacuees who left their homes after the series of earthquakes seek shelter in the grounds of the Malasila National Vocational and Technology High School in Makilala. MindaNews photo by GG BUENO

Salome Sumalinog, assistant principal of the Makilala Central Elementary School (MCES), said their classrooms have cracks on their walls, beams, and columns.

There are at least 47 classrooms at MCES, she said.

Sumalinog said officials from the Department of Education (DepEd) in North Cotabato and in Region 12 told them it is still not safe to hold classes inside their rooms.

The DepEd officials are planning to construct at least 47 temporary learning spaces at the MCES school ground.

However, it will take weeks or months to complete the construction, according to Sumalinog.

Other schools damaged by the quakes include Makilala National High School, Malasila National Vocational High School, Malasila Elementary School and Saguing Elementary School.

The Makilala Institute of Science and Technology (MIST), a school initiated by the local government unit, has also incurred major damages, especially its main building. Cracks are seen on its walls, beams, columns, and posts.

A damaged school building in M’lang, North Cotabato. MindaNews photo by JULES L. BENITEZ

These schools, according to Makilala LGU officials, are used as temporary shelters or evacuation centers of quake victims from different barangays.

Once classes resume, the evacuees have to transfer to a place just a few meters away from the temporary learning spaces, Sumalinog explained.

“The evacuees can stay here in the school ground. We are not saying they have to leave the evacuation site. But we have to continue our classes,” she stressed.

Sumalinog said they still await announcement from DepEd as to the resumption of classes.

Omar Obas, Cotabato schools division superintendent, said classes will resume on Monday although there are schools that remain not fit for occupancy.

Obas mentioned the Makilala National High School and the Buena Vida School.

He stressed that they still have to assess when would be the right time for learners to return to their classes in these damaged public institutions. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)