MANILA, Philippines – Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones on Tuesday, December 27, personally checked the situation of schools in areas heavily affected by Typhoon Nina (international name Nock-ten).
She joined President Rodrigo Duterte and other Cabinet members when they visited Catanduanes and Camarines Sur – two provinces in the Bicol Region badly hit by the typhoon that affected thousands. (READ: Typhoon Nina affects over 100,000 in PH)
In Catanduanes, the following schools were reported to have been heavily damaged:
- Bote Integrated School in Bato East
- Sto Domingo Elementary School in Virac South
- Jose Rizal Elementary School in San Andres East
- Caramoan School of Fisheries
- Cabcab Elementary School in San Andres West
The buildings and roofs of these schools need to be repaired and damaged, as well as having school furniture replaced, according to DepEd officials. In Bote Integrated School, all learning materials and computers were destroyed.
Standby funds were available for school clean-up and for the setting up of temporary learning spaces. Learning, teaching, and book library kits from Unicef were also prepared for distribution.
DepEd officials and personnel have been conducting round-the-clock off-site monitoring of the situation in affected areas, the Education Cluster of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported.
Meanwhile, a total of 118 schools in the Bicol, Mimaropa, and Calabarzon regions are being used as evacuation centers for about 4,050 families affected by the typhoon that made landfall on Christmas Day.
Many public schools serve as evacuation centers during typhoons, but the DepEd hopes to change this practice due to safety reasons.
“We have a policy now that we will not agree to our school houses being used as relief centers. Not only does it disrupt the learning process for the learners but this also not appropriate and do not provide enough protection for those who are brought in there,” Briones earlier told Rappler.
Various buildings that serve as disaster management offices and evacuation centers are being constructed across the country.
Sleeping on the job?
The 76-year-old Education secretary’s visit to typhoon-hit areas came on the heels of a rumor that an Education official has been sleeping on the job.
Asked if she felt alluded to, Briones earlier told Rappler: “I have to go where the job is, so I’m not sleeping on the job. I’m sleeping where the job is. I think that has to be clarified.”
Briones, who lives in Quezon City, explained that she sleeps in the DepEd national office in Pasig City or wherever her appointment is nearest to avoid heavy traffic and to save time.
“We do not stop until it is finished,” the activist and former national treasurer gave assurances, suggesting that she has the stamina to get things done, as her track record in public service showed.
Under her watch, Briones said that DepEd has introduced “greater awareness and preparedness for disaster, disaster management, understanding the environment because what we are having now is irreversible.” – Rappler.com