War-torn school edifice in Lanao Sur rebuilt

Rocaya Sumndad Otical

MARAWI CITY: Students painstakingly attending classes in bullet-riddled classrooms in war-torn Butig, Lanao del Sur have regained with more comfort a decent school building, courtesy of cohesion among locals, the Bangsamoro autonomous government and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

At least 250 pupils along with their teachers at the Ragayan Elementary School in Butig town are all praises for the completion last September of reconstruction works on their classrooms, which were destroyed in armed skirmishes between soldiers and extremist guerillas led then by then now slain brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute in 2016.

The armed clashes drove thousands of residents to safer grounds in other municipalities. Some 390 families fled to Marawi City, but they were displaced again after a larger and prolonged battle between government forces and the Maute group backed by guerillas of the dreaded Abu Sayyaf group in 2017.

Concerned quarters failed to promptly address adversities in the 2016 Butig conflict as public attention had shifted to the bloodier fight in Marawi City.

The freshly reconstructed classrooms were among public buildings, residential houses and farms in the armed clash in Butig, particularly the vilages (barangays) of Ragayan and Poctan.

Ragayan elementary school students and teachers recalled how they persevered in holdings clashes in bullet-riddled classrooms.

“Whenever our teacher wrote on the blackboard, raindrops would just erase her writings,” Grade 6 pupil Nor-Jannah Nabil said in the vernacular.

“It (sad situation) pained me because we get rained on while having classes,” she added.

The ICRC, which has been extending humanitarian aids in the aftermaths of the battles in Butig and Marawi City, had the town people and the Ministry of Education of the Bangsamoro region to rebuild the ruined classrooms.

The completion of reconstruction works came last September after protracted delays caused by the anti-COVID-19 measures that restrained social movements.

At least 90 Butig town residents, under the ICRC’s cash-for-work program, completed building the wooden temporary learning space in prelude to permanent building programmed by the BARMM’s Ministry of Education.

Due to restrictions for face-to-face learning, Ragayan schools pupils are holding virtual classes at home, using the standard modules. Because Butig has no internet link yet, the pupils use two-way radio units to interact with their teachers.

Butig officials have expressed gratitude for the ICRC and BARMM government intervention, even as they anticipate a sooner construction of permanent buildings for the constituent students and teaching forces. (With Agencies)

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