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Rough Cuts | Is the waiting getting longer?

Four years ago we were requested by our daughter to enroll her two kids, both transferees, at the Davao Special Education School (SPED) in Bangkal, Davao City. Luckily, both passed the qualifying examination. That was in School Year 2015-2016.

Since our daughter and her husband are working parents, more often we had to assume their role in attending homeroom parents’ meetings and other class activities. This is in addition to our daily routine of picking the kids up from school in the afternoon after we are through with our own work as journalist.

In the school year 2015-16 we already started hearing of talks from school officials and parents group leaders that multi-level school buildings were to rise during that very school season. The new edifices will replace the old one level first few buildings of SPED when the school was moved to its Bangkal campus. SPED’s former site was at Ramon Magsaysay st., specifically at the back of Sta. Ana Central Elementary School.

With those talks circulating around the campus it was not surprising that parents, teachers and the students themselves were happily expecting a big change in the school environment. Imagine holding classes inside new, spacious and possibly well-ventilated classrooms!

Honestly, the rooms in the pioneer school buildings at SPED Bangkal are still worth being called classrooms. But making the rooms as such was made possible through the joint efforts of the teachers and parents who did innovative means so that the atmosphere inside remains conducive to learning.

Frankly however, anybody who is a keen observer can very well see the sordid condition of the buildings viewed in its entirety especially from the back. Passers-by using the road at the back of the original school buildings can easily see that these appear to be half buried with the room windows already almost at level with the road surface. This could probably be because of the continuing elevation of the road from its former level to prevent its submersion in flood waters during strong rains.

As a consequence, the dilapidated galvanized and heavily rusted roofs of the buildings are already visible almost at eye’s level. Yes, if the subject of conversations among those who see the first few buildings of SPED Bangkal, is the level of deterioration it is safe to assume that their idea of the sorry state is “beyond description.”

Parents, and without doubt the school administrators and teachers are bullish of the thought that the new multi-level building, or perhaps buildings, was really to be constructed during that 20-15-2016 school year. But not a single post was seen erected. The same expectation and frustration happened again in School Year 2016-2017; repeated in School Year 2017-2018; and continued to remain a nebulous dream in 2018-2019. By April of 2019 our granddaughter completed her Grade VI education and started Grade VII in June of that (last) year.

At the onset of School Year 2019-2020 the long wait for a new building or two appeared to have ended. This came about when classes at SPED were divided into two sessions. That is, one in the morning from 6 a.m. to 12 noon, and the other session from 1 p.m. to 6 in the early evening. The reason was that the rooms in the old original school buildings were not anymore to be hosting classes to give way to the demolition work and the construction of the replacement edifice/s.

But loo and behold. The current school season is ending in two months’ time. Yet not a single nail has been pulled out from any of the old and dilapidated structures to signal the start of the demolition activities.
We do not have any idea which government unit is committing to construct the new classrooms. Was it the local government of Davao City, or the national government? We somehow assume that the city could have committed to replace the old structures with new ones because SPED is a city-operated school at the time of its inception.

Based on the talks we heard inside the school campus, we want to assume that the new building or buildings could have been promised by the national government. This assumption of ours is based on reports that the budget for the project was worked out by then first district Congressman Karlo B. Nograles.

But whatever the source of the funds to be used for the construction of the new multi-level school building or buildings at SPED Bangkal the fact remains that the waiting is already very long. The classrooms in the old buildings subject for replacement are deteriorating much faster by the days and the normal routine of classes has been disturbed for one entire school year.

What is really holding the government from starting the implementation of the new school building project/s at SPED Bangkal? The parents are demanding for a more transparent answer.

May we seek out the Department of Education (DepEd), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), or the City Engineer’s Office (CEO) of the local government of Davao City for some answers?

The current school year is nearly ending and another one is setting in. There is no place for doubt that more and more enrollees will be trooping to SPED because of the increasing cost of enrolling in private schools.

Does this mean the 2-sessions classes at SPED will continue this incoming school season 2020-2021?

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