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Thousands of Marawi children return to school

About 9,000 youngsters resume lessons as clashes in battle-scarred Philippine city near end

Thousands of Marawi children return to school

A Marawi child inspects her artwork before turning it in during a children's art festival for peace. (Photo courtesy of The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process)

September 8, 2017

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About 9,000 children are back in school in the war-torn Philippine city of Marawi, military officials said Sept 6.

Armed Forces public affairs chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said the re-opening of 12 primary schools shows "a certain degree of normalcy," and is proof that terrorism cannot "quench the thirst for knowledge."

"We are nearing the end of the battle. Security measures are being tightened to stop any attempts by the terrorists to hamper classes," said Brig. Gen. Rolando Bautista, commander of the Joint Task Force Marawi.

Arevalo said soldiers are still battling about 50 fighters from a group inspired by the so-called Islamic State who occupied Marawi on May 23.

More than 800 people have died in more than three months of fighting, which displaced close to half a million people.

The reopening of schools will spur commerce, which ground to a halt when the conflict began, Arevalo said.

"Naturally, the opening of classes also paves the way for the opening of establishments that caters to the needs of the students, like canteens and stores selling school supplies," the military spokesman said.

The military, which is overseeing Marawi’s $400-million rehabilitation program, said it would coordinate with the local education office and city officials to re-open as many schools as possible in the next month.

Arevalo said the public works department has started clearing rubble strewn streets as soldiers sweep blocks for unexploded ordnance.

 

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