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Newly-restored classrooms: Inspiring pupils in Butig's war-torn school to embrace learning

For the first time since 2016, learners and teachers at Ragayan Elementary School in the municipality of Butig in Lanao del Sur found themselves in classrooms that weren't just functional but also inspirational.

The school, which bore the scars of the 2016 firefight between government troops and the Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute group, was finally rehabilitated through the collaborative efforts of various army units in the province and the Philippine Army Finance Center Producers Integrated Cooperative (PAFCPIC).

The restoration project involved the construction of eight classrooms, with one being newly erected and seven meticulously restored to their former glory. In order to create a conducive learning environment for the students, PAFCPIC also provided a stage, a shared restroom, a playground, tables and chairs, and a flagpole.

The completion of the project was made possible through the joint efforts of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment, the 553rd Engineer Battalion under the 55th Engineer Brigade, and the 5th Infantry Battalion under the 103rd Infantry Brigade, demonstrating the power of unity in rebuilding communities.

Before the restoration, Ragayan Elementary School faced the daunting challenge of accommodating learners in makeshift classrooms that were far from ideal for effective education. The harsh reality of studying in makeshift classrooms, contending with leaky tarpaulin roofs during rainfall, has left students lacking motivation to attend school.

However, with the recent turnover of the new facilities, a wave of happiness and gratitude has swept through the school community. 

PAFCPIC Director Col. Emmanuel Gongora and Ragayan Elementary School Principal Namraida Bao unveil the marker of the eight new classrooms of the school. Assisting them are [L-R] 103rd Infantry Brigade Deputy Commander Col. Billy Dela Rosa, Butig Mayor Dimnatang Pansar, and Civil-Military Operations Regiment Deputy Commander Col. Marces Gayat. (Photo by DCC/PIA-10 Lanao del Sur)

Parent Jasmine Ampatua Ansary expressed her happiness, highlighting the positive change in her child's attitude towards education. "Dati noong hindi pa ito nagagawa, tamad talaga siyang pumasok. Pero ngayon naging excited siya dahil maganda na ang paaralan at hindi na sila nababasa kapag umuulan [Before this was done, he was really lazy to go to school. But now, he has become excited because the school is beautiful, and they no longer get wet when it rains]," she said.

Parent Analiah Bakie echoed the same sentiment, emphasizing the significant impact on the pupils' motivation to learn. She said, "Malaking tulong ito dahil noon walang mga upuan na maganda, pero ngayon mayroon na at kumpleto na sila ng mga gamit sa school. Kaya masaya ang aming mga anak na mag-aaral. Maraming salamat sa tulong nila sa mga anak namin. Gumanda din ang lugar namin dahil sa bagong school [This is a big help because before, there were no good chairs, but now they have them, and they have all the school supplies. That's why our children who go to school are happy. We thank them for helping our children. Our place also improved because of the new school]."

Parent Analiah Bakie shares that her child is now motivated to go to school because of the newly-rehabilitated classrooms of Ragayan Elementary School in Brgy. Ragayan, a war-torn village in Butig town. (Photo by DCC/PIA-10 Lanao del Sur)
Teacher Almira Bao conveys her joy for the new classrooms of Ragayan Elementary School as she sees the positive impact of the new learning space for her students. (Photo by DCC/PIA-10 Lanao del Sur)

The teachers, who faced the challenges of teaching in suboptimal conditions, expressed their joy and appreciation for the positive impact these new classrooms and school facilities will have on the students. 

"Very happy kami. Before ang mga student namin minsan, hindi pumapasok kasi kapag umuulan walang bubong na maayos, so minsan nauulanan kami. Ngayon mas naencourage silang pumasok at na motivate na mag-aral ng mabuti. Kaya taus puso kaming nagpapasalamat [We are very happy. Before, our students would sometimes not attend classes because when it rained, there was no proper roof, and we would get wet. Now, they are more encouraged to attend and motivated to study as well. That's why we wholeheartedly express our gratitude]," expressed Almira Bao, a Grade 5 teacher.

Grade 6 teacher Hania Panolong also conveyed that the learners and their parents were indeed happy with the rehabilitated school buildings. She said she was able to speak with some parents who shared that the excitement of their children is different now compared to before. Accordingly, some kids are even eager to come to school early because they are excited about the new classrooms and playground.

Children explore the newly-installed playground at Ragayan Elementary School. (Photo by DCC/PIA-10 Lanao del Sur)

"Ramdam namin 'yung tulong ng gobyerno. Ramdam namin na hindi lang kami ang humaharap sa problema bagkus nandito ang national, nandito ang LGU na tumutulong sa amin. Kaya nagpapasalamat kami, and hopefully hindi lang ito yung tulong na mareceive namin. Hopeful din kami na mas marami pang sponsor ang maengganyong tumulong dito sa Ragayan [We feel the government's support. We feel that it's not just us facing the challenges. The national and local governments are here to help us. So, we are thankful, and hopefully, this won't be the only assistance we receive. We are also hopeful that more sponsors will be encouraged to help here in Ragayan]," she said.

As Ragayan Elementary School embarks on a new chapter, the support from the Philippine Army and PAFCPIC stands as a guiding light. Its story is one of triumph over adversity, illustrating that unity and convergence can indeed be a powerful force for positive change. (APB/PIA-10 Lanao del Sur)

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Apipa Bagumbaran

Assistant Regional Head

Region 10

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