SM Foundation's Commitment to Education: The Handover of the 104th School Building

In the heart of Roxas City, Western Visayas, a group of dedicated individuals gathered not just to witness a remarkable event but to actively participate in a transformative act of generosity. SM scholars from Roxas City took it upon themselves to volunteer their time and effort to clean and prepare a newly constructed school building in anticipation of its formal turnover. This event marked a significant milestone in SM Foundation's unwavering commitment to education and community development.

The school building, a fully furnished two-story structure, was the result of a collaborative effort between SM Prime and SM Foundation. It was destined for the President Manuel Roxas Memorial Integrated School-South, a beacon of learning in the region. This endeavor was not merely about constructing a physical edifice; it was about empowering generations of students with a conducive environment for growth and learning.

This particular building was no ordinary addition to the educational landscape. It represented the 104th school building constructed as part of the partnership between SM Foundation and the Department of Education (DepEd). Each of these buildings is a testament to the shared vision of providing quality education to underserved communities.

What sets these school buildings apart is their unwavering adherence to DepEd's exacting specifications. The Roxas City building, like its predecessors, featured four well-appointed classrooms. Within these classrooms, students would find desks and chairs, carefully chosen to facilitate learning. Additionally, each classroom was equipped with its own restroom, ensuring students' convenience while adhering to the principles of hygiene and sanitation.

An essential aspect of the design was inclusivity. The ground floor featured a dedicated restroom for persons with disabilities (PWDs), making the school building accessible and welcoming to all students, regardless of their physical abilities. This commitment to inclusivity is a reflection of the broader principles of equity and equal opportunity in education.

Beyond the basics, the school building was designed with the intention of providing an enriched learning experience. The concave blackboards on the walls, the presence of electric fans, and the installation of LED lighting all aimed to create an environment conducive to effective teaching and learning. Furthermore, emergency lights were strategically placed in the stairways, ensuring preparedness for any unforeseen situations, prioritizing the safety and well-being of all.

Education goes beyond the classroom, encompassing aspects of health and hygiene. Recognizing this, SM Foundation installed a handwashing facility complete with liquid soap for the community's use. This small but critical addition aligns with DepEd's commitment to ensuring that learners have access to water for hygiene and sanitation.

However, SM Foundation's commitment doesn't end with the construction and handover of the school building. They understand that sustaining the impact requires ongoing involvement. As such, the SM group has pledged to actively participate in the maintenance and upkeep of the school. This holistic approach to community development ensures that the benefits of this initiative are long-lasting and meaningful.

In the backdrop of this generous act lies the broader context of education in the Philippines. DepEd recently reported that approximately 21 million students have enrolled for the school year 2023-2024. However, concerning this remarkable number, the agency also highlighted a sobering statistic: only slightly over 100,000 school buildings out of more than 300,000 are in good condition. This underscores the urgency and importance of initiatives like the one led by SM Foundation.

For SM Foundation, education is not just a privilege but a fundamental right. Their participation in DepEd's Adopt-a-School Program, which began in 2002, exemplifies their commitment to addressing the challenges in the Philippine education system. Through this program, SM Foundation has contributed over 100 school buildings to grassroots communities nationwide. These buildings serve as more than just physical structures; they are symbols of hope, opportunities, and a brighter future for countless students.

In conclusion, the handover of the 104th school building by SM Foundation is not merely a construction project; it's a testament to the power of collective action, generosity, and unwavering commitment to education. It demonstrates that when organizations and communities come together with a shared vision, they can uplift and transform lives. As the doors of this school building swing open to welcome eager students, they carry with them the promise of a better future, underpinned by the values of education and community.

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