July 1, 2013: The two Japanese officials from the International Monitoring Team, Mr. Takayuki Nakagawa, Chief Coordinator for Socio-Economic Assistance and Mr. Kei Fukunaga, the Senior Adviser for Reconstruction and Development of Mindanao, visited the on-going construction of the six classrooms school building implemented by the United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD) funded by the Japan Embassy in the Philippines through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) at the construction site in Barangay Lapok, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao on June 19, 2013.
The UNYPAD Development Management Center Director, Mr. Anwar Z. Saluwang, MPA, and the Project Officer of the project, Mr. Tu Alid Alfonso, MDM, accompanied the IMT Officials.
Upon arrival in the construction site, a meeting with the school officials of Lapok Elementary School was called. Among other very important discussed agenda was the development of the construction of the school building.
School Principal of Lapok Elementary School, Mr. Esmael Mansao and Mr. Kalim L. Timbao, a School District Supervisor, presented a concern over the “removable wooden partition” that will be used and serve as division of each classroom.
According to school official, this light material for dividing the classrooms is not durable, it will not last forever, and will just create some noise when students bump the partition.
“On behalf of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) of Lapok Elementary School, we are asking your office (referring to Mr. Nakagawa and Mr. Fukunaga) to allow some changes in the plan of the school building project particularly on its partition.” “Our suggestion is to use concrete walls in dividing the partition of the classrooms”, Mr. Timbao said in the meeting.
The IMT officials asked Mr. Timbao on the reasons behind their request and he explained that, “this is to make sure that the walls wouldn’t be destroyed immediately and it will prevent noise created in another rooms in order to have a good ambiance during class hours”.
The Japan IMT representatives have said that the Japan Embassy has the final say on the school officials and community’s request.
Before the actual visit of the Japan officials, the UNYPAD Project Team has received feedbacks and suggestions for a minor modification of the ‘removable wooden partitions’ from the school principal of Lapok Elementary School, parents of students and community residents.
“We are flexible to any changes in our project implementation especially when the valid suggestions are coming from our stakeholders”, Mr. Alfonso explained.
“Upon receiving the community’s suggestions, we checked the original plan; we talked to the UNYPAD Project Team (i.e. Project Officer and Engineer, Admin and Finance, Office of the President) and came up with a consensus decision to change the wooden partition into concrete walls”, Mr. Saluwang said.
He disclosed that the UNYPAD Project Team was already informed by the Japan Embassy that the proposed modification has already been approved.
“The Japan Embassy has considered the additional project cost in the changes. It’s fortunate because it is not too costly, and the UNYPAD will take responsibility on it as its additional counterpart”, Mr. Saluwang furthered.
After the meeting, Mr. Nakagawa and Mr. Fukunaga, have conducted inspection on construction. They asked some questions pertaining to environmental concerns, if the project site is a flood prone area or not?
Mr. Mansao said that the area is free from flooding.
On the other hand, among other concerns revealed in Lapok Elementary School during the random interview done by the UNYPAD Project Officer Mr. Alfonso to the students on June 13, was the “trauma” impacted by the 2008 war that is still inculcated to the minds of the pupil.
In response to this, the UNYPAD Project Team will conduct a “Psychosocial Services” to the students of Lapok Elementary School to be scheduled this coming August 2013 as another counterpart of the organization. The total number of students enrolled this school year of 2013 to 2014, according to its school Principal, Mr. Mansao, has reached already to 529 students.
Meanwhile, the GPH-MILF Ceasefire Committee, Mr. Toks Upahm, was seen visible on June 12, 2013 in the project site for monitoring. (UNYPAD News)