By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
A total of 165 classrooms in 33 schools located under two divisions in Region IV-A needs repair and reconstruction amounting to almost P100 million – the Department of Education (DepEd) said.
The latest Education Cluster Report on the Taal Volcanic Eruption showed that 18 schools in Batangas and another 15 in Tanauan City would need repair or rehabilitation and reconstruction or replacement in the aftermath of Taal’s unrest.
In the 33 schools, 161 classrooms – 84 in Batangas and 77 in Tanauan City – need repair or rehabilitation while four (4) classrooms in Batangas need reconstruction. Based on the initial summary, the repair/rehab cost is estimated at over P82 million while at least P15 million is needed for the reconstruction of the affected schools.
Given this, DepEd assured that resources needed for the repair of the damages in buildings and classrooms caused by the Taal Volcano eruption will be provided. According to DepEd, the Provident Fund Board has already approved an additional loan facility of P50 million for DepEd Region IV-A.
DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Pascua, along with members DepEd’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS) and Education Facilities Division (EFD), also attended a meeting convened by the Office of the Speaker regarding the relief and rehabilitation efforts of different agencies in response to Taal volcano’s eruption.
Earlier, Pascua conducted an ocular inspection of affected public schools located in the 14-kilometer danger zone to assess the extent of the damages due to heavy ashfall in these areas.
Based on the initial assessment, Pascua said that resumption of classes in schools that were severely damaged by Taal volcano’s eruption may not be advisable since there are schools that need total replacement. “If the community decides to go back, we need to replace the school,” he added.
With the Taal’s status now down to Alert Level 2 as announced by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the number of DepEd affected regions, divisions, schools, learners and personnel has significantly reduced.
Latest data from DepEd showed that there was only one (1) affected division which is Region IV-A. There were also 56, 923 learners affected in 87 schools and 1, 954 affected personnel.
Meanwhile, classes in the Division of Batangas in Region IV-A remained suspended. Classes at all levels in this division have been suspended since January 13 – directly affecting 29, 411 learners and 1, 044 personnel in 61 schools.
DepEd’s latest data also showed that 28 schools in the Division of Batangas were still being used as evacuation centers (ECs). As reported, 238 classrooms in 28 schools serve as temporary shelters to 1, 526 families or 4, 742 individuals wherein 2, 513 are learners.
The tracking of displaced personnel is also ongoing. To date, DepEd has already tracked 536 personnel in 272 ECs located in the provinces of Batangas, Cavite and Laguna. DepEd said that it has 1, 055 personnel within Taal’s 14-km danger zone.
To encourage learners to resume their education, DepEd is preparing back-to-school campaigns and has initiated clean-up and minor repairs in schools in areas where the lockdown has been lifted.
Monitoring of acceptance of internally-displaced learners to any public schools and the generation and keeping tabs on donations from regions, divisions and partners are also ongoing.
To help affected learners cope with possible trauma due to Taal’s unrest, DepEd has been providing Psychological First Aid (PFA) by deploying mental health and psychosocial support services (MPHSS) teams.