Philippines: Marawi needs USD 45m to reconstruct 132 damaged schools, says education minister

Education Minister says that the money is needed to build the schools that were destroyed in the fierce battle between Filipino soldiers and Maute militants in Marawi.

Militants kill 19 civilians in southern Philippines
Smoke billows behind a mosque in a residential neighbourhood of Marawi City due to fighting between government forces and the Maute militant group on Mindanao island, southern Philippines on May 28, 2017. Reuters

The Department of Education needed at least USD 45 million to construct at least 132 schools that were damaged by the on-going armed conflict between Philippine soldiers and Maute Terrorist Group in Marawi City.

Education Minister Leonor Brionies raised this concern during the tax forum this week where she announced that the education sector needs a budget of USD 16 million to rebuild 15 classrooms per school that were either bombed, burnt or vandalized.

School children have already been evacuated and placed in temporary learning spaces that badly need furniture, fixtures, books and laboratory equipment, according to the education minister.

Briones clarified that this is just the assessment so far and government authorities continue to gauge the full extent of the damage caused by the war.

The education sector has already organized a team of volunteers to man the school brigade, a campaign where parents of children will help restore and fix the schools but according to Briones they are still waiting from the military to give the clearance so they can start the school brigade.

Classes in Marawi schools are still suspended including eight school districts in Lanao del Sur province.

Briones also raised that she is worried as to where to get the funds because aside from the funds needed to rehabilitate classroom, the department also needs funds for the Kindergarten to 12th-grade programme and other programs related to climate change.

"The priority given to education is not just a matter of policy but it is also a matter of law," Briones added."

Thus, Briones said she is supporting the tax forum event because this is the venue where it can discuss how the government can fully utilised the revenue to build infrastructure for education and the health and social protection.

However, one lawmaker Salvador Belaro said that instead of rebuilding the schools, relocation of schools is better because by rebuilding the schools all debris and rubble must be bulldozed and dilapidated buildings need to be demolished.

"It is more economical to reconstruct Marawi by building new economic and government center," Belaro said.