By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
More than 15 million learners in at least 35,000 schools are affected in the aftermath of typhoon “Ompong,” the Department of Education (DepEd) said.
Data from the DepEd Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS), as forwarded by Undersecretary and Spokesperson Annalyn Sevilla to the Manila Bulletin, showed that as of September 17, 2018 a total of 15,424,598 learners are considered affected by the typhoon nationwide.
The number of affected learners is at least 76 percent of the total number of students at 20,304,435 in 16 regions. Of all the regions, Region 4-A has the most number of affected learners at 2,664,069 followed by Region 3 at 2,110,784 and then by the National Capital Region (NCR) at 1,863,892.
Meanwhile, a total of 34,924 schools are affected or around 74 percent of the total number of schools at 46,815 in 16 regions. Region 5 has the most number of schools “exposed” with 3,801; Region 8 with 3,639; and Region 3 with 3,627.
DepEd data also showed that a total of 152 divisions or around 68 percent of the 223 schools have been affected by the typhoon nationwide. Region 4-A has the most number of affected divisions at 21; Region 3 with 20; and NCR with 15.
Data from DepEd DRRMS also showed that in 11 regions, a total 713 schools or 2, 513 classrooms are being used as evacuation centers. These schools/classrooms are housing 22,115 families or 83,232 individuals. Region 1 has the most number of schools (20) and classrooms (938) being used as evacuation centers.
DepEd noted that affected families in these evacuation centers need both food and nonfood items as well child-friendly spaces.
Damaged facilities, action plan
Meanwhile, a total of 170 schools in three regions (NCR, Regions 1 and 3) or four provinces (NCR third district, Pangasinan, Bulacan, and Nueva Ecija) were reported to have been flooded while three schools in CAR have been reported with landslides.
Partial data from DepEd DRRMS showed that in eight regions, a total of 32 divisions or 225 schools have reported infrastructure damages. A total of 337 classrooms were reported to be “totally damaged”; 588 classrooms are “partially major damaged” and 1, 401 classrooms are “partially minor damaged.”
In seven regions, a total of 23 divisions or 146 schools reported non-infrastructure damages. Other non-infra damages include: 2,200 pieces of furniture; 7, 755 learning materials and 198 computer equipment.
DepEd assured that it is “taking all measures to ensure the availability of manpower, standby resources such as learning materials, and funds for response mobilization in the affected areas.” The DepEd DRRMS also “continues to monitor the effects of the typhoon, in coordination with LGUs and other concerned agencies, and deploys assistance round the clock to ensure continuity of learning.”
Spare the schools
Earlier, Education Secretary Leonor Briones – during a Cabinet meeting on Typhoon Ompong – received the support of President Rodrigo Duterte on her recommendation to “build more evacuation centers to spare schools from being used as temporary shelters of residents affected by calamities.”
Briones has long been proposing that more evacuation centers “be built across the country to ensure that education continues, no matter the circumstances, in an environment that does not expose learners and teachers to greater risks.”
In the aftermath of Ompong, Briones – along with other Cabinet members – conducted post-assessment in Cagayan and Laoag City in Ilocos Norte.