New schools feature ‘disaster ready’ furniture

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A miniature model of the set-up in a Caritas Switzerland DRR classroom (Photo: Nirva Delacruz)

BANTAYAN Island, Cebu, March 26, 2016 – After super typhoon Yolanda, a blackboard isn’t just a blackboard. And there’s more to a table than meets the eye.

With a recent Department of Education (DepEd) mandate to schools to be ready to morph into evacuation centers during calamities, Caritas Switzerland in partnership with the University of San Carlos, Cebu designed furniture that are not just normal teaching equipment but are essential facilities for any evacuation center.

Aside from building completely new school structures, not just of classrooms but of canteens and fences, Caritas Switzerland-sponsored schools feature “disaster-ready” furniture custom-made to respond to evacuation needs like multipurpose blackboards that have built-in cabinets and can double as partitions.

DRR blackboard

“If there are needs for privacy… [Like for] persons with disabilities, pregnant women, lactating women, we can do partitions [with the blackboards],” explained Rafonzel Roska, junior social manager of the NGO’s school construction projects.

A multipurpose DRR blackboard set has some 18 cabinets and 6 small cupboards on its side. According to a Caritas Switzerland information sheet, “these cupboards on the side make use of the cavity of the curved surface and provide additional storing space.”

Each blackboard, which complies with DepEd standard dimensions, costs Php16,000 or USD 340.

School tables placed side-by-side can also transform into instant beds.

A DRR blackboard in one of the classrooms of Pili Elementary School in Madridejos, Bantayan Island (Photo: Nirva Delacruz)

Better drainage systems

Classroom windows are fitted with special DRR hooks for jalousy reinforcements since glass panes may shatter during strong typhoons.

Caritas Switzerland likewise looked into improving the school’s drainage system to prevent flooding during heavy downpours.

The charity, a member of the worldwide network of Catholic charities, also made sure the school population was ready to inhabit their school-cum-evacuation center through disaster preparedness training.

“It was the first time that they (the students) used the fire extinguisher. Since we really wanted the students to learn… and we installed a fire extinguisher in the schools,” said Roska, describing the students’ hands-on workshop.

Ongoing school constructions on the island under the Caritas Switzerland project include ones in Talangan, Mancilang, Maibago, Kaongkod, Hagdan and Bunakan. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz / CBCP News)

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