Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SM Prime) through SM Foundation, Inc. (SMFI), continues its corporate social responsibility programs by recently providing a new school building to help address the lack of facilities and allow its students to have a conducive learning experience in one of its host communities in Tanza, Cavite.
The two-story, four-classroom school building was turned over to Punta Elementary School (PES) last November 20. The new classrooms are scheduled to be used by Grade 2 pupils once the threat of the pandemic declines.
Dr. Gloria Casiano, the school’s principal, said that before the COVID pandemic, some of their classes were held in their covered court. But with the new school building from SM, it will help address their room shortages and will improve their current classroom to student ratio of 1:50.
“We are overwhelmed and thankful to SM Foundation and SM Prime for continuing with the project despite the COVID-19 pandemic. This school building will serve as a haven in nurturing the young minds of our Puntaceño learners,” Dr. Casiano said.
PROVIDING FACILITIES WITH ITS SCHOOL BUILDING PROGRAM
Through its School Building Program, SMFI acts as an active partner of the Department of Education’s Adopt-a-School program which is a social good initiative that aims to promote quality public education by building classrooms with key facilities and equipment nationwide.
Under SMFI’s Education program, the social good project specifically intends to address dilemma of our public education in terms of the yearly increase in student population—which demands continuous allocation for new school buildings.
“The program is anchored on the belief of our founder, Tatang Henry Sy, that every student should have a conducive learning environment in order to develop their skills to their full potential,” said Juris Soliman, SMFI’s School Building Program Head during an interview with Manila Standard.
At present, SM’s School Building Program has constructed more than 100 school buildings, equipped with key facilities in more than 100 cities or municipalities. The program has been providing a safe and conducive learning environment for more than 16,700 students in single shift classes located in grassroot communities.
PROVIDING AN OVERALL REFRESHING EXPERIENCE FOR ALL
One of SM’s advocacies is creating a community that’s inclusive and making sure that no one gets left behind. SMFI translated this idea into their School Building Program making their buildings and facilities PWD-friendly, as per their default design.
The infrastructure is fully-furnished, PWD-friendly and emergency-ready. The SM Foundation also tapped members of the Foundation of These-Abled Persons to make the teacher’s desk sets and student armchairs. Through this strategy, SMFI enables the PWDs to be economically self-sufficient and at the same time, highlights their valuable contribution in nation-building.
Other than the classrooms established and furnishings found in the two-story building that was given to PES, there were other facilities that SM added to make the overall learning process and time in school comfortable for everyone.
Additional features installed included a literacy and numeracy corner, guidance and counselling room, and a clinic with an isolation room where pupils can be given first aid treatment or isolated at the onset of early symptoms of illness.
The SM School building at PES also boasts a 10-faucet hand washing area that intends to promote handwashing in the community. With such a feature, SMFI aims to spread the culture of good hygiene to prevent the spread of harmful viruses and diseases especially after the worldwide health risk that transpired.
And to promote the culture of environmental conservation, SM Foundation also developed an area of the PES into a study garden or “green space” by putting four tables and eight benches around a 50-year-old tree. With the green space, SM hopes to provide students and teachers with an additional learning area as well as reduce the stress of the children, enhance their mental health, concentration and environmental awareness.
“At SM, we believe that school improvement is about raising student achievement through enhancing the teaching–learning process and the conditions which support it. It is about strategies for improving the school’s capacity for providing quality education,” Soliman said.
Soliman added that through SMFI’s School Building Program, they intend to yield measurable results which include improved academic performance in national exams, reduced absenteeism, and improved reading and comprehension in their host communities.
HELPING MORE SCHOOLS IN THE FUTURE
Aside from PES, SM’s School Building Program is set to turn over a fully-furnished school building in January 2021 to Basud Elementary School in Sorsogon City, and Banisil Elementary School in General Santos.
The SM Foundation is also looking to add more improvements in their future facilities to help students and teachers alike be comfortable in their learning environments.
“We are starting to implement innovations for the program like equipping our teachers with digital technologies like laptops with the help of our social good partners. This program innovation will help our teachers at PES in performing their blended learning operations. We are also looking at this project component as a strategy in strengthening PES’ digital capabilities in order for them to be globally competitive,” Soliman said.
Soliman also added that as part of their continuous improvement process, they conduct community consultations in order to identify the specific and localized needs for each of their adopted schools—which in turn, address the education challenges of their host communities.
While there is a long way to go in addressing school congestion nationwide, the DepEd has a strong fighting chance in addressing this challenge with partners such as SM. With programs such as the SM School building program, communities can now improve the learning environment for the youth—which will eventually empower them to become well-educated and eventually globally competitive as they use their knowledge and skills for the greater good.