EDUCATION | DepEd-Bicol echoes nationwide campaign for lighting up of schools

LEGAZPI CITY—While it is fortunate that almost all of Bicol’s 3,471 barangays have already been energized, providing public schools in these locations access to electricity, the regional office here of the Department of Education (DepEd) is echoing the agency’s nationwide call for solutions to still un-energized school and homes.

The campaign, dubbed as LightEd PH which was recently launched in Manila, seeks to expand DepEd’s commitment to learners in ensuring that school and home environments are conducive to learning, DepEd Regional Director Ramon Fiel Abcede here said.

He said the campaign aims to provide solutions to schools and homes that have no power through conventional and alternative sources of energy.

Abcede quoted Education Secretary Armin Luistro as saying during the launching rites that “light makes vision possible. In the realm of education, let us be the light that will help our children realize their vision for themselves, their families, and our country.”

Hence, Abcede said, everyone is enjoined to be part of this LightEd PH campaign to bring light to those who need it and to help in extending the hours of quality learning so that darkness will not hinder Filipino children from getting the education they deserve.

DepEd records show that as of School Year 2013-2014, there are 5,954 schools in the Philippines that are either un-energized or are in remote and off-grid areas, where at least 1.1 million students are deprived of unlimited access to technology, enhanced instructional methods, and more engaging learning activities.

The health of these students is also at risk from using kerosene lamps that emit harmful fumes, which is the only means for them to study at night, according to DepEd Undersecretary for Partnership and External Linkages Mario Deriquito.

Under LightEd PH, the DepEd is launching “One Child, One Lamp”, a campaign that will be implemented in partnership with Children’s Hour and Philippine Business for Social Progress to raise funds for solar lamps for distribution to students in off-grid public schools.

Deriquito said students in off-grid barangays have limited time to study at night so that providing them electricity or solar lamps will help them extend their study time, thus, increasing the chance to improve their academic performances.

Abcede said DepEd has partnered with Global Peace Foundation, Thrive Solar Energy Philippines, Stiftung Solarenergie, and other organizations to provide mini-solar LED lamps that can be used for up to ten hours after three to four hours of charging during the day.

At Php400 each, these solar lamps are also water and shock-resistant, produce white light that is brighter than that of a kerosene lamp, and do not emit harmful fumes, allowing the learners to continue their studies at night.

Once they reach the beneficiary schools, the solar lamps will be lent to students in a manner similar to that of lending library books, in order to ensure their proper usage and maintenance, Abcede said.

The public is encouraged to partner with DepEd to make this possible either through funding or donations to acquire the solar lamps, logistical assistance to distribute the lamps to the different sites, volunteering to train beneficiary schools in the usage and maintenance of the solar lamps, or spreading awareness on the campaign to increase public support.

Interested donors may donate or give a solar lamp to one child or donate at least one hour’s worth of their salaries through Children’s Hour Philippines.

A company can donate an equivalent amount to match employees’ donations, or the equivalent profits or earnings of one hour of business or trade, or donations in kind.

Company donors may also take part through the Adopt-A-School Program.

Moreover, in collaboration with the Department of Energy and private power or energy companies, DepEd will furnish off-grid schools with solar energy sets and solar panels that will serve as a stand-alone and self-sustaining technology system to power the school.

For on-grid schools that continue to be un-energized, DepEd is collaborating with the National Electrification Administration to encourage local electric cooperatives to extend power lines to the service drop near the schools’ premises.

Once energized, the schools will be provided by DepEd with information and communication technology packages, including computers, laptops, speakers, and projectors, Abcede said.

Insofar as Bicol is concerned, on the other hand, a report of the regional office here of the National Economic Development Authority states that of the 3,471 barangays of the region, 3,410 have already been energized as of 2013, making the DepEd regional office confident that all local public schools and most homes are already provided with electricity.

But just the same, the DepEd-Bicol is asking Bicolanos to support the LightEd PH campaign for the sake of those schoolchildren in other areas of the country that are less fortunate in having no electricity yet, Abcede added. --by Danny O. Calleja (PNA)