Briones inspects Dumaguete school razed by June 20 fire

By Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Education Secretary Leonor Briones visited the Dumaguete City National High School to personally inspect the facilities damaged by a fire which razed 14 classrooms just weeks after classes started in public schools.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones (DepEd / MANILA BULLETIN)
Education Secretary Leonor Briones (DepEd / MANILA BULLETIN)

Aside from inspecting the facilities, Briones also led the turnover of school equipment and supplies that will replace the damaged materials in the school.

According to Chinky Freires-Paculanang, assistant principal-designate of Junob National High School – Dumaguete City Division, the DepEd Chief visited the school and “expressed the urgency” of rebuilding the 14 classrooms engulfed by fire last June 20.

“All of us in the Department of Education, the provincial government, the city government, and our congressmen, including the business sector, are willing to unite and extend support so that we can rebuild our school building as fast and as early as possible,” Briones said.

Paculanang said that Briones also shared how “rehabilitating the school building will be a challenge” since the DepEd’s budget for 2019 has already been planned and allocated.

“It is with joy that I announce that we do not need to wait for the 2020 budget because I have talked with government offices and there’s a big possibility that aside from DepEd, the Department of Budget and Management and the Office of the President will help us in this,” the DepEd Chief said. “With hope, I believe we can start rebuilding the classrooms within this year,” she added.

Briones, Paculanang said, was joined by DepEd Undersecretaries Alain Del Pascua and Revsee Escobedo, and Senator Bong Go to “assess and evaluate the extent of damage caused by the fire.”

In an effort to ensure the continuity of education for affected learners, Paculanang said that Briones assured that temporary learning centers will be set up.

The Secretary, along with Pascua and Escobedo, was also in the city to attend a meeting with local government officials as DepEd readies for the hosting of the 12th ASEAN School Games in Dumaguete City in November 2020.

Paculanang said that Briones shared how the DepEd was preparing for the ASEAN Schools Games (ASG) 2020 and gathering ground reports as the province of Negros Oriental and Dumaguete City were chosen as hosts.

Briones, Paculanang said, stressed the importance of ensuring the success of the event. “We are fortunate to be chosen as host of this big event but along with the good fortune is a great responsibility,” the DepEd Chief noted.

The ASG will be participated in by athletes from the 10 nations in Southeast Asia. It aims to promote ASEAN solidarity and provide opportunities for school athletes to benchmark their sporting talents, and interact and engage in cultural exchange within the ASEAN region. She urged everybody to be united and set aside political colors, beliefs, and religion, as the “country’s pride is at stake.”

Paculanang said that Briones also shared how the DepEd is “prioritizing its last mile schools” situated in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas. “We made an inventory and we will do our best that within this year, we will reach these schools which are left behind in terms of facilities and infrastructure” the DepEd Chief was quoted as saying.

“I am sharing this with you so we will not lose hope, we will not lose faith that our country, our officials, our business sectors, parents, and other stakeholders will always consider education as a topmost priority,” Briones said.

“Whatever you may need—as long as we are informed—we will try our best to meet,” she ended.