ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 27 July) — Enrolment for the first semester of schoolyear 2017-2018 at the Mindanao State University (MSU) main campus in Marawi will proceed as scheduled on July 31 to August 4 but how soon classes can start will depend on the military, the Vice President for Academic Affairs of the MSU System said.
“We will assess the prevailing situation and will announce the final start of classes, subject to clearance from the military,” Dr. Alma Berowa told MindaNews, adding “safety and security of all concerned are always paramount considerations.”
The academic calendar says the start of the first semester is supposed to be on August 7. The schedule was made before clashes between government forces and the Maute Group and its allies started on May 23.
“We will prepare for that date (Aug. 7) but we are open to the possibility that it may be moved to a later date. As a state university, we will consult and coordinate with the military,” she said.
Berowa met with MSU’s deans and assistant deans at the MSU College of Medicine in Iligan on Wednesday.
She said they are facilitating the enrollment of the students and will set up an enrolment center at the College of Medicine here, for students based in Iligan and other provinces and at the main campus in Marawi for students based in Marawi and other towns in Lanao del Sur.
But students need not go to the enrolment centers because they can enrol online, she said.
“For online enrolment, the students can contact their respective academic program advisers to confirm their intention to enroll as they were already pre-registered before they left…and the encoders and Department Chairpersons and College Deans will do the rest,” Berowa said.
“Online is the fastest and most efficient way to do it through the students’ AKAN account,” she said.
The university offers free tuition and free miscellaneous fees. Those who will avail of free tuition, “will just submit when they come for start of classes their Income Tax Return 2016 or Certificate of Indigency from the barangay chair or the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
For evacuees or internally displaced students, “we accept DAFAC (Disaster Assistance and Family Access Card) from the DSWD.”
Will students enrol?
It is not only the start of classes at the main campus that is uncertain. A question that officials cannot as yet answer is if there will be enough enrollees given the uncertainty of the situation in Marawi City.
Nanayaon Gambao an evacuee from Barangay Kilala, narrated during the State of the Bakwit Address last Monday that she will have to make her child stop school “hanggang hindi mawala ang problema sa Marawi” (until the crisis in Marawi is over). Gambao’s child is supposed to be in 4th year college starting this schoolyear.
“Hindi ko siya kayang paaralin doon dahil hindi ko alam kung anong mangyayari sa kanya. Kahit sinasabing ok ang MSU pero hindi mapanatag ang loob ko na siya ay papuntahin ko doon paaralin, na ako naman dito sa Iligan City ay magdamag na nakamulat ang mata para lang nakikiramdam sa anak ko kung anong kalagayan sa MSU” (I cannot afford to send my child to school in Marawi becuase I do not know what will happen. Even if they say MSU is okay, I will not have peace of mind that my child is in Marawi and I am in Iligan City, unable to sleep).
Security consideration was the main reason behind the decision to hold the graduation of MSU Marawi in MSU Iligan City on July 13, some 40 kilometers away “due to the clamor of the majority of the parents and the graduating students.”
MSU President Dr. Habib Macaayong told MindaNews on July 7 that they wanted the graduation held in the main campus but yielded to the clamor of the parents and students to hold it in Iligan instead.
It was the first time in the history of the 56-year old state university that its graduation was held outside the main campus.
MSU main campus’ student population as of schoolyear 2016 to 2017 was 17,000 and a teacher population of at least 1,000, according to Macaayong.
The entire MSU system– composed of the main campus, MSU-IIT in Iligan, MSU-Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography in Bongao, Tawi-tawi; in Naawan, Misamis Oriental, General Santos City, Dinaig in Maguindanao, and Buug in Zamboanga Sibugay and its three satellite campuses in Lanao del Norte had 78,000 students as of schoolyear 2016 – 2017.
Macaayong said they have to “convince our students we are in a normal situation. See, walang nasunog na bahay, walang nabombahan” (no houses burned, no bombed structures).
He said the campus is located some five kilometers from the war zone. In one part of the campus, in Barangay Cabingan, residents did not evacuate, in contrast to neighboring areas where only stray dogs could be seen roaming the streets, houses and stores shut down.
MSU alumni are also helping in the campaign to get students to return to the main campus. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)