The future certainly looks a lot brighter now for almost 150 pupils of Casili Elementary School in Rodriguez, Rizal after the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and its social development arm, One Meralco Foundation, installed a 1-kilowatt photovoltaic system to equip the school with a source of electricity.
The installation of the solar-powered system is free and is part of Meralcoís corporate social responsibility initiative called School Electrification Program. This is in partnership with the Meralco Networks group, MServe (a Meralco subsidiary), the Department of Education (DepEd) and the local government units (LGUs).
Through the School Electrification Program, Meralco is able to provide students and teachers of far-flung public elementary and high schools the chance to enjoy the benefits of electrification and to use modern tools like laptop computers, printers and audio-video systems in their classroom instructions.
“It is an honor for Meralco and One Meralco Foundation to be able to help communities and schools in the country gain access to electric power. Finally, school children in these communities are able to catch up in terms of technology, and since their classrooms are now equipped with adequate lighting, the students can focus on their lessons better,” said Jeffrey Tarayao, CSR Chief of Meralco and President of One Meralco Foundation.
“As our guiding principle in CSR, we use our core competency and utilize our material resources and the expertise of our employee-volunteers to reach out to those who have yet to take advantage of electricity and improve their quality of life and rise from poverty,” he added.
“Kahit mahirap at malayo, ‘yung mga bata rito kahit saan pa sila galing, nandoon ‘yung eagerness nila na matuto. Ang [starting] time talaga dito sa amin ay 6:00am pero dahil may mga estudyante kami na galing pa sa malalayong lugar, meron kaming palugit na 30 minutes. Meron po kaming consideration sa kanila,” explained Sarah Abude, Grade 3 Teacher and the school’s officer-in-charge.
“Ang pinaka-major problem namin dito ‘pag umuulan kahit alas-2 pa lang ng hapon o 10 o’clock ng umaga madilim na. Nagrereklamo sa amin ang mga estudyante namin. Kapag nagsusulat kami sa blackboard, sinasabi nila ‘Ma’am, ‘di po namin makita’ kaya nilalakihan na lang namin ang sulat namin para makita ng mga bata. Tapos ‘pag nakaroon naman kami ng reading, ‘yung mga bata lumalapit na lang sa may bintana,” she added.
Thanks to Meralco’s electrification program, the classrooms are now equipped with adequate lighting and teachers can now employ electronic means in teaching their lessons.
“Talagang malaki po ang naitulong sa amin ng solar [panels] kasi ëyung mga bata kahit hapon na nakakabasa pa rin sila ng books. Anytime na gusto nilang magbasa ng books, nagagawa nila na hindi nagsa-suffer ang mga mata nila. Pangalawa, puwede na rin kami ng gumamit ng multimedia equipment para makapag-practice ng mga kanta para sa graduation. Dahil may CD player na kami, nakakapag-practice na ëyung mga bata,” Abude shared.
Officials from Meralco, DepEd, the local government of Rodriguez, Rizal and the residents of Casili came together in a festive community launch held on Friday, February 7, inside the Casili Elementary School grounds. The event also served as a formal turn-over ceremony of the solar power equipment to the school officials who were given prior training on its proper use and maintenance.
Since its inception in 2011 which saw the electrification of 6 public schools in the island of Isla Verde in Batangas, the School Electrification Program has already energized a total of 17 public schools all over the country and benefitted at least 5,330 students. OMF hopes to energize more schools this year.
The program is an offshoot of the foundationís flagship CSR program called the Meralco Community Electrification Program (MCEP). MCEPís goal is to provide marginalized communities.