Bangkal Elementary School appeals for help amid power outage crisis

CEBU. Classes in Bangkal Elementary School have to go back to using visual aids and blackboards as there has been no electricity since February 2024.
CEBU. Classes in Bangkal Elementary School have to go back to using visual aids and blackboards as there has been no electricity since February 2024.Photo by Honey Cotejo

BANGKAL Elementary School in Barangay Bangkal, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, has asked for assistance from the Lapu-Lapu City Government as it sought for special education fund allocation to reinstall the school's electricity that has been out of service since February 2024.

The lack of electricity has made it difficult for students to learn, especially with the scorching heat brought by the humid weather.

In an interview with the media on Friday, March 15, 2024, Evelyn Orongan, school principal, said they would need at least P2.8 million to energize their transformer, rewire, and purchase other needed materials to reinstall their electricity.

CEBU. School officials in Bangkal Elementary School have to hold classes outside their classrooms as there has been no electricity in the area since February 2024.
CEBU. School officials in Bangkal Elementary School have to hold classes outside their classrooms as there has been no electricity in the area since February 2024.Photo by Honey Cotejo

Old electrical materials

Orongan said the recent blackout experienced by the school was caused by an explosion of their electrical meter on February 22. This was the fifth explosion recorded, she added.

The school officials believe that the explosion was caused by overloading of electrical gadgets, especially those that reduce heat, such as electric fans, due to the humid weather.

The school has 88 classrooms for 3,861 students in Kindergarten and Grades 1 to 6.

In the past, the school would have its meter fixed by the Mactan Electric Company Inc. (Meco).

But with the latest explosion, Meco had suggested that the school change the wiring connections, particularly in the inner areas of the school, with standard-sized wires that align with the city's electrical plan under the City Engineer's Office.

Orongan said the wiring connections in the school are thin and outdated.

Meco also suggested that the school energize a new transformer to help prevent future electrical issues.

Orongan said they had decided to use the money raised by their Parents Teachers Association (PTA) and the excess funds from their monthly school Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) provided by the Department of Education (DepEd) Lapu-Lapu City Division to purchase the materials needed in a staggered manner.

She said Meco requires all electrical materials to be ready before it can resume its work to reactivate the school's electrical connection.

Orongan also said that they have asked for budget allocation assistance from the City's special education fund, but the City Government has not yet responded to their request.

Shortened classes

Orongan said they have implemented several initiatives to ensure the safety and well-being of their students.

One such initiative is to shorten the duration of classes to ensure that students can reach home before it gets dark.

They emphasized that without electricity, it can be difficult for students to read and write, especially during late afternoon classes.

The school has also split students into morning and afternoon classes, and this was approved by DepEd Lapu-Lapu Division in early March.

They also reduced the duration of each class from six hours to four hours.

Morning classes now start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 11:30 a.m. from originally 7 a.m. to 12 p.m., while afternoon classes start at noon and end at 4 p.m. from originally ending at 6 p.m.

Orongan clarified that despite the change in class schedules, they do not hold remedial classes.

They assured that all subjects are covered within the four hours of classes and they provide students with modules and homework activities to keep up with their lessons.

Alternative school outfits

Orongan said they have allowed students to wear light-colored T-shirts instead of school uniforms to prevent heat stroke.

During their classes, some students brought rechargeable fans with them, said Orongan.

Lorna Epili, a second-grade adviser, shared the difficulties they face while handling their classes, particularly when presenting visual aids.

When they have electricity, they can use the school's projector and TV to present visual aids. But now that there is no electricity, they have to resort to using classic visual aids such as writing on Manila papers or blackboards.

Epili said they often print learning materials and distribute them to students. They also sometimes hold classes outside their classrooms to find better lighting.

These measures help ensure that students can effectively learn despite the challenges caused by the lack of electricity.

Substandard wire

On March 18, Lapu-Lapu Mayor Junard Chan revealed in an interview with the media that he called Meco regarding the Bangkal Elementary School's electricity.

Chan said that Meco advised the school to reinstall its electrical wiring with bigger and standard wires so that they could immediately reinstall the electricity.

He also said that Orongan, together with the students' parents, could seek help from his office or the DepEd Lapu-Lapu City Division Office to obtain additional funds for purchasing electrical materials, especially for the special education fund.

Chan said he coordinated with Meco to waive the transformer installation fees.

The City's special education fund currently has P180 million.

Gilbert Pagobo, senior vice president and general manager of Meco, said in a separate interview on March 20 that the school's electricity could be restored immediately as long as they already have new wires available for rewiring, which would only cost around P30,000.

Pagobo said they are waiting for the school personnel to inform them if the wires have already been bought for the reinstallation to take place.

Orongan expressed optimism that the power supply of Bangkal Elementary School will be restored promptly to alleviate the inconvenience faced by students, particularly during the summer months from March to May.

According to the DepEd academic calendar, the academic year for 2023-2024 commenced on August 29, 2023, and will conclude on June 14, 2024. (HIC)


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