Power for pupils

Public school in Cordova gets do­nated so­lar pan­els to en­er­gize class­rooms

Sun.Star Cebu - - TOP STORIES - BY REBELANDER S. BASI­LAN Sun.Star Staff Re­porter

Like all the house­holds in the is­land, Gi­lu­ton­gan El­e­men­tary School gets elec­tric­ity for only four hours each night, from a gen­er­a­tor op­er­ated by the barangay; the do­na­tion of 18 ad­di­tional so­lar pan­els by the Amer­i­can com­pany SunEdi­son is ex­pected to im­prove the school’s con­di­tions soon

GI­LU­TON­GAN El­e­men­tary School has enough class­rooms, but its pupils and teach­ers would some­times hold their classes out­side, un­der the shade of a tree. They have com­put­ers, but the chil­dren rarely get their hands on them. The prob­lem: lack of elec­tric­ity.

The ar­rival of more than a dozen so­lar pan­els and its of­fi­cial turnover to school ad­min­is­tra­tors yes­ter­day could sig­nal the start of a bet­ter learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment for the chil­dren in Gi­lu­ton­gan, a small is­land off Cordova, Cebu.

For years, ex­treme heat has driven pupils and teach­ers out of the class­rooms, and they have of­ten ended up dis­cussing lessons in the school­yard. The class­rooms have no elec­tric fans, and even if they had, there was not enough elec­tric­ity to op­er­ate them. They had only six so­lar pan­els.

With the in­stal­la­tion of 18 more so­lar pan­els, school prin­ci­pal Marites Pa­dayao said they can now get elec­tric fans for the class­rooms and max­i­mize the use of their com­put­ers.

SunEdi­son, an Amer­i­can com­pany that man­u­fac­tures so­lar tech­nol­ogy, do­nated the so­lar pan­els, which can pro­vide the school with up to 5,220 watts of elec­tric­ity. It in­stalled the pan­els with the help of N.A. Sys­tems Inc., a lo­cal com­pany.

Cristina Os­meña, daugh­ter of Sen. Ser­gio Os­meña III, rep­re­sented SunEdi­son dur­ing yes­ter­day’s turnover cer­emo-

ny. Cordova Mayor Adelino Si­toy, Vice Mayor Mary Therese Si­toy-Cho and barangay of­fi­cials graced the event.

Con­nec­tions

Cebu City Coun­cilor Nestor Archival, pres­i­dent of the N.A. Sys­tems Inc., and Coun­cilor Roberto Cabar­ru­bias also at­tended the cer­e­mony.

SunEdi­son spent about P3 mil­lion for the project, which is the first of its kind in the Visayas, Archival said in an in­ter­view. His com­pany was hired by SunEdi­son to de­sign and in­stall the so­lar pan­els and a con­trol room.

Os­meña, whose hus­band is the vice pres­i­dent of SunEdi­son, iden­ti­fied the school as a ben­e­fi­ciary with the help of her un­cle, for­mer Cebu City Mayor To­mas Os­meña, who re­ferred her to Mayor Si­toy.

Os­meña went to the is­land in Au­gust last year to check the school. She also read sto­ries to the chil­dren at the time.

Si­toy wel­comed the project, say­ing it will im­prove the qual­ity of ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion chil­dren in the is­land get.

“This will mean a lot to the school. They can use In­ter­net now. It is also timely be­cause we are open­ing a high school here,” Si­toy said in an in­ter­view.

In yes­ter­day’s turnover cer­e­mony, hun­dreds of chil­dren gath­ered in a cov­ered court and waved small flags to wel­come the donor and of­fi­cials. Some also danced to en­ter­tain the guests.

Limited power

Like all the house­holds in the is­land, the school gets elec­tric­ity only at night, from a gen­er­a­tor op­er­ated by the barangay. The gen­er­a­tor sup­plies power for only four hours at night.

Pump­boats are the com­mon means of trans­porta­tion to Gi­lu­ton­gan, a small is­land with about 200 house­holds. The is­land, with its rich coral reefs, is one of the fa­vorite des­ti­na­tions of is­land-hop­pers in Mac­tan.

Be­cause of the lack of elec­tric­ity, not all pupils of Gi­lu­ton­gan El­e­men­tary School are able to use com­put­ers. The school has 11 com­put­ers, seven of which were pro­vided by the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, while four were do­nated by other gov­ern­ment agen­cies and pri­vate groups.

The school, which has more than 400 pupils, had six so­lar pan­els but th­ese can­not pro­vide enough elec­tric­ity. The pan­els were do­nated by Plan In­ter­na­tional, a hu­man­i­tar­ian or­ga­ni­za­tion, to a public school in Balam­ban, Cebu where prin­ci­pal Pa­dayao used to serve.

The pan­els were brought to Gi­lu­ton­gan af­ter the school in Balam­ban was fully en­er­gized.

Pa­dayao said that all pupils start­ing Grade 4 may now be able to use the com­put­ers. “We will now be able to use our com­put­ers for eight hours. This project will re­ally help in im­prov­ing our ed­u­ca­tion,” she said.

(SUN.STAR FOTO/AL­LAN CUIZON)

MORE LIGHT TO LEARN BY. Town and school of­fi­cials, along with donor-com­pany SunEdi­son, switch on a P3-mil­lion, 5.2-kilo­watt so­lar power sys­tem in the Gi­lu­ton­gan El­e­men­tary School in Cordova town. At the cer­e­mony were Mayor Adelino Si­toy, SunEdi­son...

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