By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
As the number of schools used as evacuation centers (ECs) continue to increase, a teachers group urged the government – particularly the local government units (LGUs) –to “fast-track” the construction of dedicated evacuated centers (ECs) in their respective areas to help ensure that learning is not further disrupted during natural disasters and calamities.
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), a 30,000-strong group of teachers and other education workers, urged local authorities to focus on the completion of multi-purpose centers in their areas to be used by affected families during disasters.
“We hope that the national government will fast-track the construction of multi-purpose halls or dedicated evacuation centers in every province so that there would be no disruption of education service in times of calamity,” said TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas in a statement.
Based on DepEd’s latest Education Cluster Report as of January 23, hundreds of schools in eight divisions under Region IV-A are still being used as ECs. Public schools in the divisions of Batangas, Batangas City, Calamba City, Cavite, Gen. Trias City, Laguna, Lipa City, and Tanauan City are currently being used by thousands of families.
To date, DepEd said that 2,939 classrooms in 319 schools are being used as temporary shelters of 22,121 families or 79,412 individuals. Of this, there are 11,005 learners.
Earlier, DepEd appealed to LGUs to find alternative locations to house those affected by Taal’s unrest. Relocating the evacuees, DepEd noted, will help the schools to resume classes weeks after they have been suspended.
“We agree that schools should not be used as evacuation centers,” said Basas. “Pero nasa ganitong sitwasyon na po tayo ngayon, wala namang ibang alternative ang ating mga kababayan (But we are already facing this situation right now and our fellowmen do not have any other alternative],” Basas said.
While it agrees that schools should not be used as ECs, Basas said that the local leaders and the affected families have no other options since schools can be most accessible and convenient alternative for disaster-affected families.
“Sa schools kasi ay may relative convenience na ang mga evacuees may bubong, may rooms, may palikuran at higit sa lahat may mga guro na handang tumulong sa mga nasalanta (In our schools, it is relatively convenient because there’s a roof, rooms, toilets and most of all, there are teachers who help the disaster victims),” Basas explained.