Why Zamboanga siege survivors might skip school

RJ Rosalado, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 14 2016 09:06 PM

Children displaced by the Zamboanga siege in 2013 play with plastic bags turned into kites. Rem Zamora, ABS-CBN News/File

ZAMBOANGA CITY - Hundreds of children who survived the 2013 Zamboanga siege might skip school this year after the Department of Education deferred the resumption of classes in one of the biggest transition sites in the city.

Zamboanga City schools division superintendent Pete Natividad said the City Social Welfare and Development Office failed to submit the records of school-aged children and their place of birth which were requested last month.

He said until now, the CSWD office has not submitted the data to the DepEd.

Natividad said the records are necessary in determining the number of teachers to be deployed to the Masepla transition site and the number of classes that will be held.

He said they also need to know the places of origin of the school-aged children, in anticipation of the completion of permanent housing that has been ongoing since last year.

Natividad said some of the children at the transition site might transfer to other villages in the middle of the school year once the housing projects of the government are completed in August or September.

CSWD officer Socorro Rojas said there are considerations before DepEd could resume classes at the Masepla transition site. One of these is the completion of the housing projects which have been delayed for several months.

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Rojas said she is optimistic that classes will resume in the temporary housing site as they are about to finalize the required data requested by DepEd.

There are some nearby public schools where children could enroll, but parents have been complaining of the distance of these schools from the transitory site.

Rojas also denied there was a lack of coordination among government agencies, citing certain challenges that needed to be addressed before classes in Masepla transitional can resume.

The Masepla transition site is the biggest temporary shelter established by the government after the armed conflict broke out in 2013. It houses thousands of internally displaced persons coming from villages directly affected by the conflict.

Water and power supply problems also plague the transition sites.

About 18 housing projects composed of thousands of housing units are being implemented, but most of the projects have been delayed for reasons such as poor construction quality.