PH school’s mangrove project among ‘World’s Best’ | Inquirer News
For environment and livelihood

Pangasinan school’s mangrove project makes it among ‘World’s Best’

/ 05:40 AM June 19, 2022
students of Bonuan Boquig National High School

LABOR OF LOVE | In this Feb. 15, 2022, photo, students of Bonuan Boquig National High School, joined by teachers and students from other schools as well as representatives of Junior Chamber International Dagupeñas and Knights of Columbus 3711 Pangasinan Chapter, arrive at a wetland to plant mangroves.(PHOTO COURTESY OF JCI DAGUPEñAS FACEBOOK PAGE)

MANILA, Philippines — From just a small project 10 years ago, Bonuan Boquig National High School’s environmental initiative of planting mangroves in Dagupan City, Pangasinan province, has brought the school to the shortlist of the World’s Best School Prizes, awarded by international educational group T4 Education.

School principal Renato Santillan recalled that Typhoon “Pepeng” (international name: Parma) in 2009 had left heavy damage on fishponds, rivers, and mangroves in their barangay, after which the high school is named.

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This prompted them to start a project of growing new trees to help support students and their families, who subsisted on their catch at the mangroves before disaster struck.

“Recently, one of our students said the initiative became a huge help because they were able to get oysters that grow at the roots of mangroves. [The oysters were] their food amid the [COVID-19] pandemic,” Santillan said in a recent phone interview.

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The trees also helped slow down washouts when a storm hit their area, he said.

Initially, only the students were involved in planting. But the high school had since expanded the project as it tapped the assistance of its council and its parents-teachers’ association, and even the help of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and nongovernmental organizations like Junior Chamber International.

“We partnered with the DENR to monitor the growth of [the] mangroves. They give us updates on how many … are alive and how many seeds we need to plant,” Santillan said.

The principal said the school plans to go into research and eventually develop its own mangrove nursery—the term for any area where seedlings are tended before they are grown on wetlands.

$50,000 prize

Bonuan Boquig National High School made it to the shortlist of the World’s Best School Prizes under the environmental action category, while two other schools—the G.L David Memorial Integrated School in Balanga City, Bataan province, and Malitbog National High School in the municipality of Calinog, Iloilo province—were shortlisted under the community collaboration and supporting healthy lives categories, respectively.

If these schools win, each of them will receive a prize of $50,000.

The awarding ceremonies will be held between Oct. 17 and Oct. 21. T4 Education has designated those five workdays as World Education Week.

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Santillan said “we can [help] sustain the needs of [our] fisherfolk” if Bonuan Boquig National High School wins that award.

T4 Education describes itself as a “global organization committed to providing engaging tools, initiatives, and events for educators and schools.”

Vikas Pota, the group’s founder and CEO, is quoted on its website as saying that “by telling the stories of inspirational schools that are transforming the lives of their students and making a real difference to their communities, schools can share their best practices and have their voices heard … to help transform education.”

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TAGS: Bonuan Boquig National High School, mangrove project, T4 Education
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