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One Meralco Foundation continues to energize off-grid schools despite COVID-19 crisis

Engineers install the solar panels of a 1-kilowatt photovoltaic system on the roof of an island school in Western Samar. Although face-to-face classes are suspended, teachers need access to electricity to prepare learning materials which will be delivered to students studying at home.

With the ongoing crisis disrupting the education of over a million Filipino learners nationwide, One Meralco Foundation (OMF) beefs up its efforts to energize more off-grid schools, enabling technology-aided blended learning in far-flung communities.

Despite the logistical challenges brought about by travel restrictions implemented by both national and local governments, OMF’s engineers were able install a 1-kilowatt solar PV system at the Takut Elementary School in the island municipality of Sto. Niño, Western Samar last week. To reach the school, they had to travel for more than a day to Calbayog City from Manila and take a two-hour boat ride to the island community.

Locals help load the solar PV equipment on to a boat headed for the island schools to be energized. The support of community officials and the local government is vital to expediting the electrification of off-grid schools.

Now that their school is energized using solar power, teachers can prepare materials needed by the students for the upcoming opening of classes this October like modules and worksheets.

The engineers observed health protocols such as undergoing a mandatory 14-day quarantine, wearing of face masks at all times, and observing social distancing.

OMF will also conduct online training on solar PV maintenance and operations for teachers in the newly-energized schools.

After installation, engineers orient teachers and officers of the school’s parents-teachers association (PTA) on the proper use and maintenance of the photovoltaic equipment.

The school electrification program is a core advocacy of the foundation. It has energized 245 far-flung public schools nationwide to date, and has received numerous international and local recognition for its impact on education in last mile communities in the Philippines.

One Meralco Foundation is the social development arm of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco).

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