By Wilson Villones
CARMEN, Cotabato – Students of Bai Matabai Plang Memorial Primary School will no longer have to swim the river to go to school; CheckMySchool (CMS) has secured boats to be given to the school and the processing of the boats has already begun.
The public school is located near the island communities of Carmen, making its accessibility a major problem for the students, parents and teachers of the municipality. According to Noraisa M. Palanggalan, the school principal, their students have to cross the river either by boats, which are only so few, or swimming, which is what happens most often.
Students who are forced to swim use banana stems as floaters where they place their notebooks and bags to keep from getting wet. Once they have crossed the river, the students still have to walk another 11 kilometers to finally reach their school, drying their soaked uniforms along the way.
Datuben Aliman, a Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) member, said that this long standing problem has compelled some parents to spare their children from the daily drudging and perilous journey and opted not to send them to school. The risks that swimming the river to school poses have also caused the number of enrollees to drop significantly, not to mention the school’s lack of teachers and serviceable chairs and tables.
The school’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) has also forced them to have multi-grade classrooms or combine two different levels of students in one classroom.
CMS presented these findings last February 2016 in a round-table discussion with the School Division Superintendent (SDS), principals and the Local Government Unit (LGU).
On August 15, after further and constant updates and follow-ups by CMS coordinator, Mary Jo Astrologo, with the Provincial Office of Cotabato, has finally secured boats for the students of Bai Matabai Plang Memorial Primary School. The boats are set to arrive and will be turned over to the school by October 2016.
Edited by Audrey Rose Villacorta