Youth groups launch school clean-up drives

WITH students affected by torrential monsoon rains set to return to school on Monday, various youth groups launch clean-up drives in flood-affected public schools in Metro Manila starting today.

Tulong Kabataan Volunteer Network, a relief effort organized by various national youth groups including the National Union of Students of the Philippines, Kabataan Partylist and Anakbayan, calls on the youth to volunteer in preparing flood-stricken schools for the resumption of classes on Monday.

Tagged as “Balik-Eskwela Drive,” the relief effort is set to clean and repair flooded classrooms in public schools in Metro Manila, including the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) , and several elementary and high schools in Manila, Quezon City, Marikina and CAMANAVA areas.

Balik-Eskwela will begin today and is expected to reach the peak of operations this weekend.

“The flood brought by the weeklong monsoon rains has left many of our public elementary and high schools in a state of disrepair. We call on the youth to take part in various clean-up drives that will be launched starting today,” said Vencer Crisostomo, Tulong Kabataan National Coordinator.

The rains brought about by the southwest monsoon have left more than 49 people dead and 2.1 million families severely affected, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Hundreds of schools were also devastated, with over 35 schools remaining flooded in Manila alone, according to the Department of Education. Several public universities were also hit by the floods, including PUP in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

“With our public education system receiving insufficient funds for maintenance and operating expenses from the national government every year, it is not surprising if affected schools will not be able to mend flooded facilities on their own,” Crisostomo said.

Many classrooms in public schools are also of substandard quality, due to lack of funds for capital outlay and rampant corruption during construction, Crisostomo added. “If we don’t pay attention to flooded classrooms and facilities immediately, these will only compound the worsening state of public schools,” he explained.

Tulong Kabataan also calls for school supply donations, including notebooks, pad paper, pencils and ballpens, which will be distributed to students who were victims of the recent flooding.

“In these trying times, the youth should lead in ensuring that schools will be able to continue operations as soon as possible. Let us continue to spread the spirit of volunteerism and collective action to make sure that students will return to their classes safe and equipped,” Crisostomo said.

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