"Never stop learning"—Schools in Southern Leyte resume classes after Typhoon Odette

Face-to-face classes also resume after COVID-19 school closures

Plan International
A girl wearing a school uniform stands in front of UNICEF tents being used as temporary classrooms
Plan International/2022/Kassandra Barnes
11 May 2022

Students and teachers of Bontoc Elementary School in Bontoc, Southern Leyte, were looking forward to starting face-to-face classes again, almost two years since schools in the Philippines were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They were preparing to join the pilot run of limited face-to-face classes when Typhoon Odette struck Southern Leyte in December 2021.

Nica, a 12-year-old student, was really scared during the typhoon. “Our house was damaged. A coconut tree fell on the back of it,” she said.

Classrooms destroyed by Typhoon Odette
Plan International/2022/Kassandra Barnes
Bontoc Elementary School was heavily damaged by Typhoon Odette.

The typhoon not only damaged Nica's house, but also the buildings, equipment, and learning materials in her school. Instead of finally going to school again, she and other students in Bontoc had to focus on their immediate needs and recovery.

Their at-home modular classes were also halted due to the lack of electricity and cellular reception in the area in the aftermath of the typhoon. As the class president and a hardworking student, Nica was really disappointed when even their remote learning was disrupted.

A UNICEF tent being used as a temporary learning space
Plan International/2022/Kassandra Barnes
UNICEF tents are being used as temporary learning spaces in Bontoc Elementary School.

Through funding from the United Nations Central Emergency Fund, UNICEF and implementing partner Plan International are providing support to Nica’s school, and other schools in Southern Leyte, so they can resume classes as soon as possible.

In Bontoc Elementary School, UNICEF set up tents to serve as temporary learning spaces and repaired water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities like handwashing stations to help ensure children’s safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A school handwashing facility
Plan International/2022/Kassandra Barnes
The handwashing facility in Bontoc Elementary School was repaired by UNICEF and partners working on the ground.

Now that classes are resuming, Nica looks forward to attending face-to-face classes again in Bontoc Elementary School.

“What I’m most excited about is seeing my friends and kids learning a lot. I want all the kids here to never stop learning. Even though we have challenges, I hope everyone can continue schooling even with modules from home," she said.