ZAMBOANGA CITY (Darwin Wee / 30 Jun) Spain has granted a P40-million, two-year educational project that will benefit Filipino students and teachers in Zamboanga City and nearby Zamboanga Sibugay province, coinciding with the celebration Friday of the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day, officials said.
Called the Acceso a la Educacion y Mejora de la Calidad Educativa en Colegios de la Peninsula de Zamboanga (Improving the Access and Quality of Education in the Schools of the Zamboanga Peninsula), the project by the Agencia Español Cooperacion International and Fundacion Humanismo Y Democracia, both charity arms of the Spanish government, and the Philippine Business for Social Project (PBSP), is expected to benefit more than 23,000 elementary and secondary students, including teachers and parents-teachers community associations in the three pilot areas in the Zamboanga Peninsula.
It aims to provide scholarship assistance to more than 2,000 poor and deserving students, and establish a 15-cubicles speech laboratory worth P1.2 million to increase the proficiency of the students in English and also to help promote and preserve the local Chavacano language, a unique mixture of Spanish and other Filipino dialects.
Officials said the educational grant will also include the construction of 30 classrooms and other facilities such as audiovisual production center, tables and chairs and texts books, and supplementary feeding program and remedial reading workshops.
Dr Marilyn Moncada, PBSP's senior regional manager, said they identified the Don Pablo Lorenzo Memorial High School in Zamboanga City and 42 elementary schools from the municipalities of Ipil and Titay in Zamboanga Sibugay to be primary beneficiaries.
For instance, she said, the Don Pablo Lorenzo Memorial High School, which is one of the most populated schools in the southern region, lacks chairs and tables. She said the school, which has a population of more than 7,000, has only
2, 500 chairs for students to share.
"The lack of school materials greatly affected the performance of the students, who have been complaining of back pain since they don't have chairs to sit during classes," she said.
Pilar Rodriguez, representative of the Spanish-aid group, said the project is part of Madrid's humanitarian assistance to the Philippines, a former colony.
Madrid has provided the Philippines with grants and other assistance to help promote social services, education, health, and other projects that included potable water system, agriculture and food security, good governance and environment protection.
"The program will not only promote good relationship among the two governments, but would also address some of the educational concerns in the Zamboanga Peninsula area.
"Basically the project aims to increase the access of children and youth to quality education and make them more productive students," she said.
Rodriguez said the project is part of the 28.5 million euros (roughly P1.8 billion) that will be implemented in a three-year period starting this year.
She noted that Spain has decided to upgrade its cooperation with Manila to help fight poverty not only in Zamboanga Peninsula, but also in Basilan in the Muslim autonomous region and Caraga in southern Mindanao and in Bicol in Luzon.
Last year the Spanish government thru Manos Unidas also granted the Philippines P50-million for the construction of a five-hectare housing project for poor families in Ayala district in Makati City.
Local officials led a small Spanish delegation in celebrating the Philippines-Spanish Friendship Day, which was marked with photo exhibit at the Fort Pilar and simple ceremonies attended by much of the city's elite personalities.