One Meralco Foundation (OMF), the social development arm of the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO), has brought access to power to 22 off-grid public schools in Palawan through feasible electrification alternatives under its community electrification advocacy.
Now solar-powered, these public schools are San Fernando, Teneguiban, Bulawit, Tagusao, Candawaga, Speaker Ramon V. Mitra, Jr., Cararay, Casian, Bancalaan and Sumbiling national high schools, and Bulalacao, Panlaitan, Pajo, Marabon, Matangule, Tabodniayo, Bancalaan, Buliluyan, Sapa, Sumbiling, and Ocayan elementary schools.
Depart of Education (DepEd) Schools Division Palawan information officer Grace Estefano said all these elementary and secondary schools now have access to electricity using solar power.
“Grateful at appreciative kami sa DepEd sa Palawan sa One Meralco Foundation kasi malaking tulong ‘yon sa mga eskwelahan lalo na sa mga schools na wala sa plano ng Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) at ng local government units (LGUs) na magkaroon ng kuryente. Alam natin na malaking tulong rin ito sa mga teachers sa Information and Communications Technology (ICT) — ng mga computers at printers — sa mga lugar na mahirap ang reproduction ng test papers,” Estefano said Thursday last week during the Regional Training-Seminar on Solar Voltaic Technology held in a hotel in the city.
She said further evaluation will be conducted for them to determine the remaining schools that are still unenergized.
Estefano said there are schools on island areas in Palawan that still have no access to power.
“Meron pa kaming gagawin na evaluation sa mga schools na off-grid lalo na sa mga schools na nasa isla na wala pa talagang kuryente. Tinitingnan natin ang mga schools na pupuwedeng pumasok sa criteria na na-set ng One Meralco Foundation after the evaluation we will recommend them to become recipients,” she said.
Palawan is a geographically unique province and the biggest division in MIMAROPA region with 900 schools and more to be established where electrification is “greatly needed”, she said.
OMF provides units of Solar Photovoltaic System (SPS) that cost P300,000 to P500,000 each on average. Each unit can allow the use of 10 laptops, five desktop computers, and lights and electric fans of a school beneficiary.
The OMF also provided a laptop, 43 inches LED television and an all-in-one printer to school beneficiaries from funds donated by MERALCO employees.
The program can be availed by the schools that can meet the following criteria: the school must be off-grid; not a recipient of the DepEd computerization program; must have a sustainable budget for maintenance; must have a LGU intervention through the Special Education Fund; approval of the local electric cooperative to install a franchise, and the support of the parents and the teachers.
Rainier Manguiat, program manager of One Meralco Foundation told Palawan News that they will still continue to support their beneficiaries.
“I-co-continue pa rin natin ang pag-suporta natin sa mga beneficiaries natin particularly by providing capacity building training para sa kanila,” he said.
Manguiat said the OMF started the advocacy because of a school in Isla Verde, Batangas which is part of the MERALCO franchise that they intended to electrify but could not due to geographical reasons.
The solution is to bring in alternative sources, he said, to still reach their goal.
“Nag-isip ng programa ang One Meralco Foundation kung ano ba ‘yong puwedeng gawin na maraming magiging beneficiaries sa isang project. Siyempre ang expertise ng MERALCO ay power distribution. Doon tayo nag-focus sa ating strength. Nakita namin na available ‘yong Solar Photovoltaic System, nakita natin na this can be a viable solution para eventually malagyan natin ng kuryente ang eskwelahan,” he said.
From one school, they have already provided power to around 500 schools in the country with 22 schools in Palawan, marked as the largest number of beneficiaries.