Australian Ambassador visits Lambunao schools in Iloilo

By: PR - CDN Digital | November 10,2019 - 06:42 AM

Pupils of Don Eugenio Ladrido Memorial Elementary School wave Philippine and Australian flags during the visit of Australian Ambassador Steven Robinson and other delegates from the Australian Embassy Manila. | Contributed Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson AO recently travelled to Lambunao in Iloilo to visit the classrooms built at the Don Eugenio Ladrido Memorial Elementary School (DELMES) in 2015 through the support of the Australian Embassy in partnership with Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). Robinson is the first ambassador from any country to visit Lambunao.

Australia has supported the construction of more than 20 classrooms in nine barangays in Lambunao as part of its broader education investment in the Philippines. The Australian Government has been working with the Philippine Government for decades to improve the quality of and access to basic education through classroom construction, improvements to teacher development and systems strengthening across the county.

“I am proud to be here with you today and to see for myself how these classrooms are making a difference in the lives of the students and the community. Australia is a longstanding development partner of the Philippines, particularly in education. Education is an investment in the future of the country and its people,” Robinson said.

He also expressed his country’s continued commitment to provide assistance to the Philippines.

“Australia is committed to helping the Philippines. We have been partners for a very long time. We have worked very closely with the Department of Education and also with PBSP, to support the goal of the Philippine Government to provide every child with access to good quality basic education.” Robinson added.

PBSP Executive Director Reynaldo Antonio Laguda affirmed the long-standing partnership of PBSP with the Australian Government in support of the continuous improvement of quality education in the Philippines.

“The partnership we have with the Australian Embassy is something very close to our hearts, to all the employees and partners of PBSP,” Laguda said.

“PBSP considers Australia as one of our strong and reliable partners. Aside from funding the projects around the country, you could say that there is genuine concern throughout the whole process, from project implementation to execution,” he added.

Addressing the teachers, he proceeded to say that Australia’s support to the schools in Lambunao addressed the pressing need of the region for classrooms back in 2015.

“The Classroom Construction Project of the Australian Government is part of its larger development assistance to the education sector. And PBSP’s role is to make sure that this happens in partnership with the Department of Education. We are making sure that other stakeholders and even other community members, take part in valuing these assets, taking care of these assets, and making sure that they are utilized properly by the students.”

The disaster-resilient, three-classroom building built by the Australian Embassy and PBSP in Don Eugenio Ladrido Memorial Elementary School in Lambunao, Iloilo keeps the students safe from fires, 250-kph typhoons and intensity-7 earthquakes. | Contributed Photo

More Than Just A School 

While visiting the school, Ambassador Robinson took the time to meet the school heads and teachers, representatives from the local government, parents and most especially, the students.

The Ambassador had a productive dialogue with the school heads and other stakeholders regarding the importance of the classrooms to the schools and the need for maintenance and sustainability. He also thanked them for their passion in educating the learners and their contribution to the community.

School heads and representatives from the nine beneficiary schools of the project shared how the classrooms are being used and enjoyed by the students, as well as the whole community.

The classrooms built with support from Australia were designed to be disaster-resilient. Aside from providing a safe learning space for the students, the classrooms also serve as evacuation centers in cases of calamities.

“From our perspective, that is incredibly gratifying because you are using these classrooms for multiple purposes. They are not only for the children but for the community’s greater good,” Robinson said.

Laguda also highlighted the teachers’ resilience and capacity to learn from disasters, citing the faculty’s wise decision to keep the school records when Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines in 2013. This act was a learning experience for them after losing thousands of school records during the onslaught of Typhoon Frank in 2009.

“No community will ever be safe if the school is not safe and no school will ever be safe if the community is not safe,” Laguda said as he thanked the Australian Government for the great opportunity to help the country through this intervention.

Partners For Education

To date, a total of 188 classrooms have been built in Bohol, Cebu, Iloilo, Leyte, and Samar through the partnership between PBSP and the Australian Embassy. Each classroom is disaster-resilient to keep students safe from fires, 250-kph typhoons and intensity-7 earthquakes.

PBSP was also able to construct a one-story Alternative Learning System Building in Lawaan, Eastern Samar.

To help maintain the classrooms and further improve the pupils’ school life, PBSP provided capacity building support and organized trainings for school officials, municipal local school boards, and parents-teachers associations, and other community stakeholders. / dcb

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TAGS: Australian ambassador, classrooms, disaster-resilient, Iloilo, Lambunao, Robinson

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