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Bikes ease school ride woes in N. Ecija town

08:00 PM June 05, 2012

JAEN, Nueva Ecija—High-school freshman Diana Rose Villeza, who comes from a family of farmers, was determined to walk several kilometers to a newly built school in Barangay Marawa here if only to finish high school and pursue college to become a teacher.

But Villeza is one of 200 students who need not walk to the Jaen National High School (JNHS) Annex as they could go there on bicycles given by the local government.

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Mayor Santiago Austria said the town distributed bicycles to 200 of over 400 students at the JNHS Annex to motivate them to attend classes and reduce the burden on transportation expenses on their parents.

Initially, Austria said, they thought of acquiring two vehicles to ferry students to and from school but they found this plan too expensive for the town government.

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“That means we will hire drivers and set aside money for gasoline and maintenance,” he said.

Villeza said she wanted to finish school so she could help her parents provide for the family. Her mother, Francisca, took a break from rice planting, to accompany her on her first day in school as well as buy her first pair of school uniform worth P500.

“If she finishes school, then she will have a better chance of improving her life,” Villeza’s mother said.

King Gasper Basa, also a high-school freshman who received a bicycle, said most children here know how to ride a bike because it is the most practical mode of transportation in rural villages.

“It is more convenient to ride a bike than walk to school. We just have to be very careful while on the road,” Basa said.

The JNHS Annex was built in about a month and a half in time for the school opening this week, Austria said.

The annex accommodates new students and enrollees from outskirt villages who used to spend P4,000 to P4,500 a month in transportation to attend school in the nearby towns of Sta. Rosa and Zaragoza, he said. Armand Galang, Inquirer Central Luzon

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