Students suffer in typhoon zone

June 03, 2014 - 12:40:30 am
Filipino teachers scuffle against riot policemen during a ‘lightning rally’ outside the gates of Malacanang Palace in Manila yesterday. Teachers demanded a salary increase and a higher budget for the education sector.

TACLOBAN: Tens of thousands of students in the central Philippines began the school year yesterday in steamy tents and other makeshift classrooms, seven months after Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the region.

The government said it had hoped to rebuild or repair 20,000 classrooms before students returned, but new regulations requiring higher building standards so schools withstand future typhoons led to delays.

“These are the birth pangs of making sure that resiliency... would be the basis for better structures,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in Manila.

“In the meantime, the students will be studying in structures which are not yet resilient, but we hope for their understanding.”

At the Panaluran Central School in Tacloban, a coastal city which bore the brunt of the typhoon, hundreds of sweat-soaked children crammed into three temporary classrooms made from steel frames and corrugated iron sheets as the temperature outside hit 30 degrees Celsius.

“It is pitiful to see them packed like sardines,” said housewife Gina Villamor as she anxiously waited for her children, aged 6 and 10, to finish their first day at school. “It is so hot in there. And there is no electric fan.”

More than 1,000 schools in the typhoon zones were damaged or destroyed, according to the education cluster head of the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) in Tacloban, Manan Kotak. 

He said between 80,000-100,000 children were expected to return to schools in the central areas that Haiyan battered, about half of them in Tacloban. AFP