THE Department of Education (DepEd) is still unsure when classes will resume in Marawi City due to the ongoing fighting between government troops and the Maute Group.
“There’s no definite date yet for the opening of classes in Marawi City. (Education) Secretary Leonor Briones said that we will coordinate first with the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to know if the place is already safe,” Tonisito Umali, DepEd assistant secretary for legal and legislative affairs, told The Manila Times on Saturday.
Umali earlier said that the opening of classes in public elementary and high schools in Marawi City may be moved this month because of damages to property brought about by fighting in the city.
He said classes in Marawi City will resume after clearing operations to ensure the safety of returning students and teachers.
DepEd records show that more than 20,000 students from Marawi City have been displaced by the conflict there that began on May 23.
The same records also show that 15,115 students from Marawi City had transferred to other schools in various regions nationwide. Of this number, 7,028 displaced students are in different evacuation centers.
“We have already tracked 10,423 out of 22,000 Marawi displaced learners and most of them are in Iligan City and Lanao del Norte province,” Umali said.
“We’ve convinced our displaced Marawi learners to enroll in all of our schools or in schools nearest to them, and also we set up temporary learning spaces in evacuation centers, but that’s the exemption rather than the rule because we want them to return to our regular schools for them to really feel that sense of normalcy,” he added.
DepEd data, meanwhile, show that at least 175 of the 1,411 teachers in different schools in Marawi City remain unaccounted for. DepEd has said that it continues to track down teachers who have not yet reported to the school division.
Umali also asked for donations for the repair and rehabilitation of damaged schools in Marawi City.
At least seven schools with 137 classrooms were damaged by the continuing firefights in the city.
“There are 69 public schools in Marawi City that we need to look after or whether they are damaged in any way, and make sure that they are safe once classes resume in the city,” Umali said.
Among the damaged schools are Raya Madaya Elementary School, Raya Madaya II Primary School, Dansalan Primary School, Mambuay Elementary School, Mamintal Disomangcop Central Elementary School, Banggolo Elementary School and Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School.
DepEd is also asking for assistance from the public and private sectors for displaced students in the conflict-torn city, particularly those staying in the evacuation centers.
“Any help that would be given will definitely be welcomed,” Umali said.
Umali said the evacuees’ immediate needs include learners’ kits, teachers’ kits, hygiene and sanitation kits, some cleaning materials kits, chairs and tents.
“Those who want to donate can send their donations directly to the Iligan City National High School, or either sends it to the DepEd central office in Pasig City and to our regional offices nationwide,” he said.