The most important school in the Republic of the Philippines has been established on the Kalayaan Island Group: The Palawan Elementary School.
The photo above was taken from an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which posted the following caption for it:
PAG-ASA CLASS OF 2012 The Philippine flag flies in the breeze as Kalayaan town Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon (center) poses with the teacher, schoolchildren and their parents at the opening of Pag-asa Elementary School on a disputed West Philippine Sea island on June 15. AP/OFFICE OF KALAYAAN MUNICIPAL MAYOR
To establish the school, local residents added walls to an unused multi-purpose hall to create a classroom, and the municipal government hired a teacher that agreed to re-locate her family to the island. It commenced operations on the 15th of June for the benefit of five kindergarten students. The town mayor, Eugenio Bito-onon, is reportedly seeking additional funding to expand the school so that it can offer additional courses of instruction.
The school’s importance not only stems from the fact that it ended a 34-year absence of educational options on the island and thus giving local residents an alternative to sending their children to the mainland, but also because of how it elicited the following response from the People’s Republic of China:
Such statements are a normal facet of territorial disputes. Whenever one side of the issue makes a move, the other must file a protest to avoid appearing to accept the move. The proper Philippine response to this countermove, therefore, is to ensure the school’s survival. Otherwise . . . we could be misconstrued as having submitted to their demand.
Never in the history of human conflict has so much of an independent nation’s honor rested on the shoulders of a teacher and her students. It is in the Filipino people’s collective interest that this school succeed.