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SPEEDY REHAB OF ‘ODETTE’-DAMAGED SCHOOLS URGED

The Philippine Educators Alliance for Community Empowerment (PEACE) Party-list urged the government to fast-track the rehabilitation of school buildings destroyed by Typhoon Odette as the country anticipates the expansion of face-to-face classes by January.

“Umaasa tayong mamadaliin ng pamahalaan ang rehabilitasyon ng mga paaralan na nasalanta ng bagyong Odette nang hindi na muling maantala ang pagbabalik-eskwela ng mga estudyante,” PEACE Party-list president and first nominee, Marie Paz T. Abante, said.

Abante said the planned expansion would be curtailed unless more urgency were applied to rehabilitation efforts.

The long-time educator echoed the call of other sectors for the Department of Education to swiftly download to affected areas its Quick Response Fund for the said concerns. 

The QRF is the agency’s stand-by fund for the replacement, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or repair of school buildings and facilities. P2 billion had been allotted to the QRF for this year.

The DepEd had earlier announced that it plans to proceed with the expansion phase of in-person learning by next month, with the pilot run of face-to-face classes set to conclude this December.

Some 272 schools participated in the pilot run, which started on November 15.

Abante said the planned expansion would be curtailed unless more urgency were applied to rehabilitation efforts.

“Hindi natin madadagdagan ang mga magbubukas na paaralan kung hindi pa nakukumpuni ang mga pasilidad na nasalanta, at kung hindi pa na-relocate ang mga evacuees na pansamantalang naninirahan sa mga eskwela,” she said.

According to DepEd, 671 schools are being used as evacuation centers.

The long-time educator echoed the call of other sectors for the Department of Education to swiftly download to affected areas its Quick Response Fund for the said concerns. 

Abante also called for greater effort to ensure the health and safety of around 15 million children in 35,698 schools that had been affected by the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year. 

“The health and nutrition of affected children should also be top priority. And besides the reconstruction of damaged school structures, we also have to take into account the reproduction of learning materials that have been ruined,” said Abante.

“Our frontline agencies have their hands full with reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts already. But we hope that the damage to the education sector will also be prioritized,” she added.

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