Amid reminders of war, 300 kids expected in school used as Army base
MARAWI CITY — There was little indication that the structure standing in the village of Saduc was a place of learning but on Monday, at least 300 school children would start calling it a second home.
Bullet holes now mark the walls of classrooms at the Saduc Elementary School (SES), which had served as artillery base of the Marines during the war on Islamic State (IS) in the city.
Just a kilometer away, soldiers continued the search for unexploded bombs a day before the new school year
Saduc was near ground zero of the fighting between IS followers and government troops.
Sainollah Baute, SES assistant principal, said she expected more students on Monday because two other schools near ground zero — Romoros Elementary School and Natangcopan Elementary School — were still closed.
But unlike SES, the two other schools were shuttered because they violated a Department of Education (DepEd) order requiring schools to be at least a kilometer apart.
Anna Zenaida Unte, assistant schools division superintendent of Marawi City, said students of schools that were closed because of violating the DepEd order and those from schools inside ground zero would have to attend classes in other schools.
Students from schools in ground zero would be enrolled in schools near where they had sought refuge.
Those in areas that were already cleared would have to enroll in schools near their former schools, Unte said.
At least 11,000 elementary and high school students were from villages inside ground zero, while 20,000 were from areas already cleared but where schools remained closed.
Baute said SES, though not at the main battle site, had suffered heavily from the war.
“They put a 105mm howitzer here. It is devastating,” Baute said.
SES is near the Balo-i Bridge in the Mapandi area separated from the war zone only by Agus River.
“From here, we can see the scars of war, what has become of the next village,” Baute said.
“We will try to be calm,” she added.
Senior Supt. Ronald Briones, Lanao del Sur police director, said security would be focused on some areas during the opening of classes. —Divina Suson
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