The Department of Education (DepEd) is set to enforce stricter policies to assist schools and communities during calamities in light of recent situations in the various regions.
Undersecretary for Field Operations Revsee Escobedo, during field visits in adversely affected provinces of Bicol region, underscored the importance of redesigning school buildings to protect teachers, students, and personnel from destructive calamities.
“We have to prepare our schools for stronger typhoons due to climate change,” Escobedo said. Before, he noted that it would take five to 10 years before destructive typhoons hit the country. “Now, every year, we have very strong typhoons,” he added.
Related to this, Escobedo said that DepEd will also “strengthen strategic school designs” to help ensure that the facilities can withstand stronger typhoons, earthquakes, and effects of other natural calamities.
Citing Rapid Assessment of Damages Report (RADAR) of DepEd Region V, it was noted that 41 percent or 1,587 schools in Bicol suffered infrastructure damages due to Super Typhoon “Rolly” (international name: Goni) as of Nov. 10. DepEd said that the partial estimated cost of damages is reportedly P6.6 billion.
Meanwhile, DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua said that the agency’s engineers are “already drawing up proposals for new school designs.” However, he noted that the reconstruction or rehabilitation efforts will vary – depending on the current status of the school buildings as well as of the funds available.
“We have to go back again to the drawing board because typhoons continue to become stronger,” Pascua said. “Our target is within the next 15 to 20 years, our school buildings are still standing and that they are not damaged,” he added.
Pascua cited roofing, ceiling, and window patterns, as well as engineering as major considerations in the redesigning of DepEd facilities. Aside from the redesigning, he added that local DepEd engineers and school heads “should work together” to ensure that only the “appropriate materials will be used by winning contractors to achieve storm- and earthquake-proof school buildings.”
DepEd engineers, Pascua explained, should regularly monitor the construction of facilities so they would know if the types of materials are of standard. Thus, he noted that DepEd needs “more engineers.”
Before this month ends, DepEd said that the local should be able to submit a post-disaster needs assessment for inclusion in the program of works next year. Pascua and Escobedo have been personally inspecting typhoon-hit schools in Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, and Albay in the aftermath of “Rolly.”
They are also set to visit Catanduanes and Camarines Norte in the following days to check the schools damaged by typhoon “Ulysses” (international name: Vamco).