Jee Y. Geronimo
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) said on Monday, June 5, that only 3 schools in Iligan City are being used as evacuation centers for residents of Marawi City affected by clashes between government troops and local terrorists.
Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo said these 3 schools are Iligan City National School of Fisheries, Nangka Elementary School, and Pantar National High School.
"But classes in these schools are [being] conducted as evacuees only use the gyms or multi-purpose buildings and are not affecting the opening of schools. Displaced learners are still being encouraged to attend," Mateo said on Monday, during his visit with other DepEd officials at Ramon Magsaysay High School in Manila.
Regional directors of Zamboanga Peninsula and Soccsksargen also updated the DepEd's Central Office about evacuees in their schools.
"It appears that the transferees were more to the nearby municipalities more than spilling over to Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula), but there is no specific data yet if there are really any transferees. But for now, it does not appear that there's a major spillover to Region IX," Education Assistant Secretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said.
For Soccsksargen, Mateo said only 16 displaced learners were accepted in some schools in the region. School officials areencouraging other displaced learners to attend the schools nearest them.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, following clashes between the military and the Maute Group in Marawi City. (READ: TIMELINE: Marawi clashes prompt martial law in all of Mindanao)
The DepEd estimates that over 20,000 learners have been displaced since the conflict started.
"Scattered sila sa iba't ibang lugar sa Pilipinas… Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga, Cotabato, at saka dito sa Luzon, sa mga areas na may mga malalaking Muslim communities, sigurado tayong mayroong mga bata na mag-e-enroll din," Education Secretary Leonor Briones explained.
(They are scattered in different places in the Philippines... Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga, Cotabato, and here in Luzon, in areas with big Muslim communities, we're sure there will be transferees as well.)
'We want them to finish'
On Monday, Briones again urged schools to accept transferees from Marawi City and waive the learners' documentary requirements. The DepEd hopes these students will stay in their new school to finish at least school year 2017-2018.
"We want them to finish. Kung halimbawa nag-enroll sila dito sa Maynila, o sa Quezon City, gusto natin siyempre makatapos para hindi nadi-disrupt," she explained.
(We want them to finish. If for example they enrolled here in Manila, or in Quezon City, we want of course that they finish the entire school year so that there's no disruption.)
Briones said it's unlikely that families displaced by the conflict will immediately return to Marawi City once the clashes end.
"Tsaka it will take time for people to get over their anxiety and trauma. Hindi naman pag-settle down ng ating gulo ngayon ay babalik sila kaagad. Ang pressure dito sa mga lugar na lilipatan ng evacuees would not only be on DepEd but also in the provision of basic services and employment," she added.
(Also, it will take time for people to get over their anxiety and trauma. They won't go back immediately right after we've settled this conflict... The pressure for these areas with evacuees would not only be on the DepEd but also in the provision of basic services and employment.)
As for damage to school properties in Marawi City, Briones said they are not yet sure about DepEd schools but they can "only project that it would be extensive."
Public elementary and high schools nationwide opened their doors to 22.89 million students on Monday. For schools in Marawi City and 8 other districts in Lanao del Sur, classes have been postponed for two weeks, at most. – Rappler.com