By: Arlene Ching
URDANETA CITY, PANGASINAN—Smelly toilets, withering plants, and lack of drinking water—these are only some of the difficulties that students and teachers of Oltama Elementary School had faced when they were short of running water.
The absence of funding, among others, delayed this basic need of students to nearly six decades. The wait was too long compared to the two months needed to have a water line in the school installed in May 2016.
While the school was established in 1957, the school’s primary source of water was a deep well that was later installed in 2009. However, the well yielded water only during the rainy season when water levels are high.
Students had to cross a road for years to fetch clean water from a nearby farm. Without any janitor, the school relied on its students to fetch water before and after their classes.
“Our students are young and not fit to carry buckets of water every day. Nevertheless, their enthusiasm to help out in the maintenance of the school served as an inspiration for both the school administration and the local government to hasten Oltama’s water system project,” Kirk Viduya says, former principal of Oltama Elementary School.
The project required a pipe line or submeter to be connected from the barangay’s main water pump—completed only in 2016—to the school.
Viduya says that he first reached out to the barangay captain for assistance but was turned down due to certain operational requirements.
Fortunately, when Viduya was approached by the provincial chapter of Check My School in Pangasinan, CMS was able to forward the school’s concern to the city council in March last year.
Without delay, the local government provided an initial funding of P5,000 to commence the project. And, in two months, a pipe line with a single faucet was finally installed in the school.
“I am grateful to the local government and, of course, CMS. Thanks to them, our students are now able to focus on their studies while enjoying a clean and healthy learning environment,” Viduya says.
Students now get water from their own school’s water pipe in the hand-washing area.
The school’s current principal, Jojo Antolin, developed the project further, branching out the water line to three more faucets around the small campus. Funding for this totaled P8,000, which came from parents, students, and the school’s maintenance budget.
Antolin says that, at present, the school administration continues to work closely with the local government to improve school facilities.
Edited by David Faustino de Castro