By Wilnard Bacelonia

ILIGAN CITY, Nov 21 (PIA-ICCC) – Children affected by the Marawi conflict are expected to benefit from Save the Children Philippines’ “Balik-Marawi, Balik-Eskwela” project funded by Insular Life Foundation.

The Pathways to Integrated and Inclusive Conflict-Sensitive Protection and Education for Children in Mindanao (iCOPE)-linked project has completed the identification of school-beneficiaries and currently in the process of facilitating the purchase of materials.

Save the Children Philippines project coordinator August Ceazar Acorda said the 1.9 million peso-worth project was implemented following the signing of an agreement with Insular Life Foundation last month.

The agreement was signed by lawyer Albert Muyot, Save the Children Philippines Chief Executive Officer, with Nina Aguas and Mona Lisa de la Cruz of Insular Life, in time for the first anniversary of the Marawi siege.

The agreement stated that “Balik-Marawi, Balik-Eskwela” project will cover 4-months ending in February 2019 providing learning materials for children and teachers, which includes 10 Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) kits, 20 children’s kits, 20 teachers’ tables and chairs, and 500 children’s armchairs.

PIA interview with Save The Children Philippines Project Coordinator August Ceazar Acorda at Save The Children’s Marawi Response Office located in Iligan City (Photo by Wilnard Bacelonia)

In choosing the beneficiaries, Save the Children did a collaborative effort with Department of Education(DepEd-ARMM) and Marawi City Schools Division, looking into the vulnerability of a certain school, the damages, the number of affected students and teachers, being a catchment school, being underserved, and supports received from other government and non-government projects.

“The process of identifying the school-beneficiaries underwent a lot of deliberations, consultations, and review. From the 20 to 30 schools and learning centers assessed last May and June, it finally scaled down to 10 schools,” Acorda said.

The “Balik-Marawi, Balik-Eskwela” project aims to address the educational needs of Marawi children focusing on schools, learning centers in the city and surrounding municipalities which became the catchment of displaced students.

The Save the Children’s Marawi Response Office, which is located in Iligan City, has been responding to the conflict and displacement in Marawi since June 2017 with the interventions of child protection, education, water sanitation, hygiene, and health. (WLBacelonia/PIA-ICCC)