3 quake-hit towns in Cotabato need 1,500 classrooms
KIDAPAWAN CITY – Less than two weeks before the reopening of classes on August 22, three towns in Cotabato province are in need of at least 1,500 classrooms so that face-to-face instruction can be carried out based on a normal schedule.
According to Cotabato Schools Division Superintendent Isagani dela Cruz, numerous classrooms in Makilala, Mlang and Tulunan were damaged during the series of earthquakes that rocked Central Mindanao in 2019.
Three years on, rehabilitation of the damaged facilities have not taken off.
Dela Cruz said the Department of Education (DepEd) in Region 12 lacked the funds to have the classrooms restored, estimated by the agency’s engineers to cost P1.4 billion.
He added that it would be up to the DepEd central office to look for funds for the rehab of the classrooms.
Dela Cruz vowed to have the classes reopened in the three towns, using the temporary learning spaces (TLS) or makeshift classrooms that were built right after the 2019 quakes to allow continuity of learning activities.
However, when the physical distancing rule is factored in, a TLS can only accommodate at most 25 learners, leaving out 20.
Dela Cruz said that in this case, they will be forced to have two shifts—-one in the morning and another in the afternoon—-for one class. “We will not sacrifice the welfare of our learners, especially that COVID-19 is still around,” Dela Cruz explained.
He admits that the two-shift strategy “means additional work for our teachers.”
“We cannot do anything about it, especially if the DepEd will really pursue the 100 percent face-to-face classes this school year,” Dela Cruz added.
Resorting to blended learning—-which will be a mix of modular and face-to-face classes—-is also being studied in order to address the classroom shortage, Dela Cruz said.
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