MANILA, Philippines – Education Secretary Leonor Briones wants to revive the Quick Response Fund (QRF) of the Department of Education (DepEd) to rebuild or repair schools damaged by Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) last December.
The fund, which was removed from the DepEd’s 2017 budget, was used in the Aquino administration for pre-disaster and post-disaster agency needs, such as prepositioned supplies and construction materials for classrooms.
“The QRF for DepEd has been removed starting FY 2017 and all QRF for FY 2016 have already been utilized,” said the DepEd in a statement on Friday, January 13.
Two weeks after Typhoon Nina hit Luzon, the DepEd also announced on Friday that it has distributed over P17 million to more than 1,100 affected schools.
Nina, which left 6 people dead and 19 others missing, damaged a total of 1,046 schools. The DepEd also reported that 1,548 classrooms were totally destroyed and 3,797 others were damaged.
In a Cabinet meeting last Monday, January 9, Briones said P66.78 million had been allotted to build 1,113 temporary learning spaces in 465 schools.
She added that 63,232 school furniture units and 386,689 learning resources were affected, while 384 schools reported damaged computers.
Bicol suffered the worst loss, with 1,237 classrooms totally damaged and 2,948 classrooms partially damaged. Some schools in Calabarzon and Mimaropa also suffered extensive damage.
The DepEd hopes to complete repairs by December of this year.
The agency is also providing new learning materials to affected schools, being distributed in coordination with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Briones said long-term solutions are needed to address the perennial threat of typhoons and other natural hazards.
These solutions, she said, include the early allotment of funds for clean-up and temporary learning services, having a buffer stock of furniture and computers, and prespositioning the buffer stocks in disaster-prone areas.
Meanwhile, children’s welfare organization UNICEF has pledged to supply tents to serve as temporary classrooms and libraries.
Telecommunications company Smart will also distribute kits for teachers in 150 identified schools in Bicol, Calabarzon, and Mimaropa. – with a report from Cathrine Gonzales/Rappler.com