Group builds temporary learning spaces in quake-hit Mindanao

MANILA— Save the Children Philippines is planning to put up a total of 10 temporary learning spaces in Mindanao to step up its assistance to the children displaced by the series of earthquake that hit the region last month.

“Right now, our setting up of temporary learning spaces is ongoing. These are standard classroom-sized tents that kids can use as classroom because it’s critical to put up safe learning environment in the form of temporary learning spaces so that they can resume their classes,” Jerome Balinton, humanitarian manager of Save the Children Philippines, told the Philippine News Agency on Tuesday.

Balinton said parents are generally concerned on the risks of having their children away from them should a strong earthquake hit the region anew.

“One of the concerns right now ng mga parents is ayaw nilang pumasok ulit ang mga bata because they are afraid na baka kapag nagkaroon nanaman ng lindol malayo sa kanila ang mga anak nila (They don’t want to send their children because they are afraid of another earthquake and the risk of having their children away when it happens again),” he said.

Balinton said classes have to resume while the government is still assessing the damaged school buildings in Mindanao.

“Putting up a temporary learning space is really critical at this point in time,” Balinton said.

“One of these temporary learning spaces’ purpose is also to ensure that the kids are safe and in one place where a teacher or a facilitator can oversee them,” he added.

Albert Muyot, chief executive officer of Save the Children Philippines, also noted that the resumption of classes will address psycho-social stress of affected children since it seeks to re-establish their routines.

“Keeping children safe inside learning spaces is critical in times of emergencies. Children know that education gives them power to build a better future,” he said.

The group has so far put up six of the total 10 planned learning spaces in Makilala, Cotabato and Davao del Sur.

Aside from the learning spaces, Save the Children Philippines has also distributed a total of 1,100 family hygiene kits and plastic sheets to the displaced families in Mindanao.

Initial figures from the Department of Education (DepEd) showed that some 3.2 million school-age children have been affected by the series of earthquakes that hit four regions in Mindanao.  Joyce Ann L. Rocamora / PNA –