Treacherous school run to end, thanks to new building from Sailors’ Society

Hundreds of children will no longer have to face a dangerous two-hour boat journey to school, thanks to a new school being built by international maritime charity Sailors’ Society.

Last month saw the ground-breaking ceremony for the school build, which will transform the lives of a seafaring community of a tiny island in the Philippines, previously devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

Sailors’ Society is building a new school and educational facilities for the residents of Lipayran island, which will enable more than 800 children to attend school – something that is currently impossible to do consistently.

Sandra Welch, deputy CEO and director of the programme said:

“Although life has returned to normal since Haiyan, the islanders struggle to send their children to school as there is only one school and it’s not big enough to cater for everyone.

“This means around 50 per cent of children miss out on vital schooling or make the treacherous two-hour journey to school on the neighbouring islands of Doong or Bantayan, which can only be done at high tide and in good weather.

“This project will provide safe access to quality education for all of the children of Lipayran.”

Lipayran was badly affected by super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013 and has received very little international aid in the intervening years due to its remoteness and lack of infrastructure. Around 75 per cent of the 3,500-strong community relies on seafaring as a main source of income.

The current building for secondary pupils is little more than a shack and not structurally able to withstand any future tropical storms. Teachers have frequently resorted to delivering classes outside under canvas, and in extreme heat, because of the lack of suitable classrooms.

Treacherous school run to end, thanks to new building from Sailors' Society
Teachers have sometimes resorted to delivering classes outside under canvas because of the lack of suitable classrooms.

The project is being financed by a generous grant from The TK Foundation and funds raised through Sailors’ Society events including the Three Peaks Challenge and Hong Kong Dinner.

Gavin Lim, Sailors’ Society’s regional development manager – Asia said: “We’re extremely grateful to The TK Foundation and the generosity of our other supporters for enabling this project. The new school will make a huge difference for the children, improving their education as well as the long-term economic prospects of the community as a whole.

“The storm proof school building will be multipurpose, as it will serve as an emergency shelter in case of another natural disaster, as well as provide a base for adult education and other community activities in the evenings and at weekends.”

The new school building, which is planned for completion by the end of 2019, would be able to shelter approximately a quarter of the island population in a disaster situation.

Yumi Karlshoej, Member of the Junior Board of The TK Foundation, said:

“The Junior Board of The TK Foundation is very proud to support Sailors’ Society’s seafaring community school project on Lipayran. Encouraging improved education opportunities for children and providing the community on the island with functioning storm shelter are vitally important. Ever since we at the Junior Board learned about the project, we have been very eager to be involved and support it.”

Sailors’ Society is a trusted charity partner in the Philippines and has an established track record of delivering projects in seafaring communities there, including rebuilding homes, schools and health centres for the communities of Sulangan, Suba and Ticad in Cebu Province.

The Lipayran school build project is being run in partnership with the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. and the local government (the Municipal of Bantayan and Barangay Lipayran governing council). As a government-run school, the Department of Education will provide for the ongoing costs of the school including building maintenance, staff salaries and school supplies.

The new facilities will include electricity, computers, desks and chairs and once the construction is complete, Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) training will be taught to the residents.

Sandra Welch continued:

“We are very proud to be part of a project which is so sustainable and which can be taken forward by our local partners to deliver the education that the students have a right to receive.”

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