Alangalang Agro-Industrial School (AAIS) in Alangalang, Leyte started offering  Senior High School three years ago. Now, they have a total of 232 SHS learners out of the 835 total student population, most of whom are taking up organic agri-farming and Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) for their tech-vocational strand.

Australian Embassy Senior Program Officer Mr. Niño Rocamora (right) chats with  AAIS principal, Mr. Dagami, after inspecting the disaster-resilient classroom building constructed under the Australia/BEST-PBSP partnership.

The fast-growing number of enrolees necessitated more classrooms. At the school opening this year, school head Mr. Dennis Dagami saw the two classrooms built with support from Australia as a ‘big blessing’.

“We felt so lucky that the classrooms were completed in May 2018, in time for the start of our classes this year when we our SHS enrolment increased a lot, as we absorbed transferees from other schools who did not offer SHS,” Mr. Dagami said.

Classroom construction activities in the BEST Program are delivered by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

The two classrooms provide learning spaces for the school’s new enrollees. Mr. Dagami said he was happy because the new classrooms provide a benchmark for how a disaster-resilient classroom should be built, having witnessed how AAIS’s school buildings were nearly wiped out by Typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) in 2013.

“These two classrooms give us confidence that we can be safe in case similar disasters happen. They are built to withstand gusty winds during typhoons,” the school head said.

AAIS is one of the 165 public schools nationwide within and outside the BEST regions identified with DepEd as beneficiaries of the Program’s classroom construction component.

Australia-PBSP’s partnership under the BEST Program was in response to DepEd’s call for support for new classroom buildings to create more learning spaces, reduce congestion and increase access of learners to schools.

Mr. Niño Rocamora, Australian Embassy Senior Program Officer, who visited the school last week with the BEST Team, shared that one thing which impressed him was how the school willingly shoulders the maintenance of the building through their Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) fund.

The BEST team and the representatives of the Australian Embassy are joined by Mr. Dennis Dagami (middle), school head of Alangalang Agro-Industrial School in Leyte, as they inspect the  wheelchair ramp of the disaster-resilient classroom building constructed by PBSP, a BEST implementing partner. The building design is meant to ensure the classrooms are able to withstand strong winds during typhoons.

“The school spends for re-painting, piping, and water supply installation. It makes it more sustainable for any project when the main stakeholder demonstrates a sense of ownership and responsibility,” Mr. Rocamora said.

The classrooms are also compliant to Australia’s cross-cutting principles of gender sensitivity by putting two toilets per classrooms so that the boys and girls will have separate toilets. They are also designed to be disability-inclusive with features addressing the needs of persons with disabilities (PWDs). Each school building is provided rainwater catchment to provide water for washing and for the toilets.