Monday, March 1, 2021

Lack of Internet and Surrounded by Sea - Books Take on a New Importance for Children

Island Schools Closed for a Year Rely on Help from Maritime Charity
Shipping News Feature

PHILIPPINES – As with so many countries, schools in the many diverse islands which make up the archipelago have remained closed during the time the pandemic has been running its course. The difference between trying to maintain standards of learning on some of the far flung provinces however is vastly unlike most mainland states.

The Filipino schools have been shut since early 2020 and the children told to stay at home as the islands wait for vaccine rollouts. For 200 pupils living on remote islets in the province of Cebu, their only access to the outside world is by sea. Even their school, Sulangan Integrated School, is across the water on the neighbouring island of Bantayan.

So, as children in the UK wave goodbye to home school this World Book Day (March 4), hundreds of pupils in the Philippines are still getting their schoolwork delivered to them – by boat. International maritime charity Sailors’ Society, which was running a school ferry boat service to the isles before lockdown, is now using the ferry boat to deliver books and schoolwork to the children two or three times a week until they can return to school. Sara Baade, CEO of the charity, which has its headquarters in Southampton, UK, said:

“Lack of internet access means the education gap is becoming even wider for children in the most deprived areas of the Philippines, so we urgently needed to offer something to support them. These books are the only way these children have been able to continue any kind of education since their schools were closed nearly a year ago.”

Photo: The books form an essential resource to keep kids up to date with their education.