From InterAksyon (May 31): US envoy Goldberg leads inauguration of climate-resilient classrooms in Leyte
US Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg gives a plaque of appreciation to Palo National High School Principal Nino Angelo S. Mendoza. PHOTO BY LOTTIE SALARDA, INTERAKSYON.COM
US Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg recently led the inauguration of 10 climate-resilient school classrooms in Palo, Leyte, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The school building project was part of the US government’s commitment to restore access to education in areas in Eastern Visayas badly affected by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
Of 310 classrooms targeted for construction of the 51 schools in Eastern Visayas, 199 have been completed and 111 are still underway. The projects were completed in close coordination with the Department of Education's Regional Office 8.
Besides constructing the school buildings, the USAID also donated 55 desks for each classroom; one teacher’s table and chair; two electric fans for each classroom and 550 school bags for the students made out of indigenous materials bought from the women mat weavers in Basey Samar. The project is also in support of the the local economy.
The school building construction was part of the $143 million committed by the US government for the rehabilitation of the Yolanda0affected areas.
According to Palo National High School Principal Nino Angelo S. Mendoza, the 10 new classrooms can accommodate 50 high school students this coming school year. Last year, Palo National High had 2,600 students including the junior high. This school year, they are expecting to have more than 400 students in senior high school. The donation of the school classrooms helped address the lack of classrooms, he said.
They still lack 10 classrooms to accommodate the students in senior high school, he added. During typhoon Yolanda, the school was used as an evacuation center for the nearby communities. The storm totally damaged 40 classrooms.
They are temporarily using the 16 makeshift classrooms to accommodate a number of students.
"The USAID classrooms are really a big help for us. Especially now that we have the senior high school and there are more students," said Mendoza at the May 27 inauguration, speaking in Filipino.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education through the Department of Public Works and Highways conducted soil testing in preparation for the construction of another 64 classrooms that can be used by the senior and junior high school.
In his message, Ambassador Goldberg gave credit to the resiliency and the ability to recover of the typhoon survivors. The turnover is very timely because the start of the regular classes is set on June 13.
“The priority we give to building classrooms underlines the important role of education in reducing poverty. Education is a basic human right that everyone must have access. The 10 classrooms in Palo are among the more than 250 classrooms that the US government committed to construct in Leyte province,” he said.
The USAID started the rehabilitation projects in Yolanda-affected areas in June 2014 and these will end in December this year. But the US envoy gave assurances the American government will continue helping the people in Eastern Visayas and other parts of the country in the incoming Duterte administration.