• Bataan students crammed in rooms

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    DINALUPIHAN, Bataan: The new school year for children in an Aeta village in Bataan who trooped to attend classes on Monday, means staying in a cramped village chapel, former garage and residence of the parish priest and portion of the barangay hall.

    One mother described the classrooms as hot and lacking in space. “Gusto kong magkaroon ng school na maayos ang mga anak ko,” said Manilyn Liwanag, who has two children in Grade 1 and another in Grade 2.

    Another mother, Janette Baybayon, said they have to be patient. “Sobrang init. Sana mapaayos ang paaralan ng mga bata, magkaroon ng permanenteng paaralan kung saan okay ang mga anak namin, komportable at may mga electric fan dahil mainit,” she said.

    A blackboard placed in the middle of the Kapilya ni San Martin de Porres served as divider between classes for Grades 5 and 6.

    Children in other grades have to contend with small spaces in the former garage and priest residence that have galvanized iron sheets for roofing, but mostly without ceilings.

    Ronnie Mendoza, supervisor of the Department of Education in Dinalupihan, Bataan, said the children were transferred in 2013 to the present improvised classrooms after the Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School was declared dangerous due to threat of landslides.

    Bayan-Bayanan is an upland village in Dinalupihan that was hit by landslides caused by a habagat or monsoon rains in 2012.

    Celia Sangalang, Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School principal, said 154 pupils from kindergarten to Grade 6 reported for classes on the first day. There were 170 children, half of the number Aetas, who registered for enrollment.

    “Medyo gitgitan, mainit ang ginagamit na silid-aralan ng mga bata pero ginagawa namang lahat ni Mayor Gila Garcia para maibsan ang kalagayan ng mga bata,” the principal said. Sangalang said the Dinalupihan mayor just sent six tents and a number of tables for use of the children.

    Bataan Gov. Albert Garcia said the Dinalupihan municipal government is looking for a suitable relocation for the safety of Aetas and other children. “There are already identified sites but (these) should pass required processes,” he said.

    As to the first day of classes, the governor said he was closely coordinating with DepEd. “Smooth on the first day, no major problems. Relatively speaking, school facilities are good that can cope up with the increasing student population,” Garcia said.

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