PEACETALK: Making Modern Madrasah Work: The Islamic Academy at Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao Michael O. Mastura

The Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat legacy foundation madrasah is a nonsectarian, privately governed Islamic academy with collegiate status. Sultan Kudarat Islamic Academy (SKIA) hosts an accredited four-year degree granting commuter campus located in Sultan Kudarat municipality, [[1]] Maguindanao province, [[2]] Philippines.

Formally incorporated as Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat Islamic Academy Foundation, Inc., the updated registration of madrasahkulliyah status has encountered no obstacles from certifying agencies. Philippine SEC REG. AN091-19555240 issued at Davao City, on November 14, 2017, amended provisions of the SKIA 1991 Articles of Incorporation to update policies and comply with current K-12 program, Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) courses. Property and land endowments combined with endowments of Arab and Muslim philanthropists constituted in 1991 the Islamic academy that financially stabilized SKIA campus leading to its formal establishment into an institution of higher education. Finally accredited with School Identification (ID) Number 4765504, it has maintained corporate accounts with no changes in bank accounts or numbers required for incorporation and registration.

Commonly known by a monogram made up of four capital letters “SKIA” added to the word-mark “Sultan Kudarat” is its primary signature to identity the heritage of the 17thcentury legendary ruler. Acclaimed a national hero in 1975 with commemorative postal stamp, [[3]] likewise in celebration an old brass cannon relic was mounted on a pedestal at SKIA campus in front of the College Founders Hall as a replica of freedom and just peace. As a formal step, the SKIA corporate dry seal was engraved in 1991 made of overlapping two squares eight-pointed star symbols with the motto “Iqrah” inscribed at the center of the crest. SKIA Foundation College’s logo-heraldic symbols were designed in 1993 with help of specialists at the National Library, and friends of the Islamic academy from the Philippine Historical Institute.

Institutional Formation

The formation of SKIA institute as a composite human enterprise has set the organizational purposes for the madrasah kulliyah(academy and collegiate co-campus). While goal setting for higher education institutions can work out plans from agreed-on institutional outcomes there is relatively no inherent goal to maximize products or measure their learning outcomes. Nor is any independent, private academy unique in its formation and distinction. [[4]] On close scrutiny, a madrasah kulliyahand a universityparallel each other in a number of ways as innovatory non-organization where the independence of individual faculty members is valued highly.

A Muslim Legacy Organization

The Islamic character of the Foundation College named after Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat [[5]] casts a category unique to the dominant type of liberal arts education with edudomain name. So it is a uniquely Muslim tertiary institution in the Philippines, and a privately endowed non-profit legacy organization. Related programs to baccalaureate degree in Islamic studies are being reworked with the Commission on Higher Education. [[6]] The Islamic Academy retains institutional research and communication function of SKIA Foundation College.

In 1998, by virtue of R.A. 86681, Sultan Kudarat Islamic Academy was granted a franchise to operate a radio broadcasting distance learning programs (viz., infrastructure installation had to be put on hold due to a disruptive “All-Out-War” waged during the Estrada administration). SKIA remains an institution oriented to scholarly production and so it was never intended primarily for promotional purpose. During the same year, Sultan Kudarat Islamic Academy (SKIA) was featured as a novel school “Beyond the Madrasah” in the book Jalan Jalan, subtitled A Journey Through EAGAby two independent journalists. [[7]]

Over the last decade, SKIA campus has transformed into a model government-accredited madrasah of a private non-sectarian type and the category of a coedinstitution of higher learning. Female faculty and students are required to wear veils although “far from orthodox,” but in keeping with its co-educational and co-campus policy.

Madrasah kulliyahcapability dimension builds on SKIA campus pride, and an educational environment that fosters similar high campus identity. Pride figures on and off campus to explain much of SKIA culture of collegiality. A major dimension of change to restructure Islamic academy and collegiate campus-wide as “learner centered” builds on student experience as “customer” with ability to use enterprise as valuable and practical end products. Institutional advancement for the use of new technology alongside the use of campus curricula (e.g. human resource, management, communication) are a set of targeted key result indicators for madaris improvement model.

During the Congressional Commission on Education (1990-1992 EDCOM) the madrasah segment hardly entered the debate on structural and curricular reforms. Educational reform for imparting information and training system takes many forms and directions for madaris institutions. Strategically, with a quality of privately-endowed madrasah, SKIA campus initially operated as a special science class under Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (MECS) permit. [[8]] Early on, the pioneering founders of Islamic academy already opened an Internet domain <> aimed to integrate technology. [[9]]

Advances in digital-span of education and research connectivity prepared students, faculty and staff at SKIA campus to become knowledge workers of the 21stcentury and effective “enablers of the consumers of online” academic services. Science enterprise developing the 1980s relevant networks linked to interconnected system of up-to-date portals occurred at SKIA campus as ICT investment priority and high-quality practice. Student services with proximity to modern electronic tools demand today an integrated system to build information infrastructure where upgraded facilities for SKIA research and communication began to merge.

College Category Status

The SKIA Foundation College’s primary service region is Muslim Mindanao and includes Cotabato City. The small college’s 22-acres (8.8 hectares) site is situated immediately across the Rio Grande de Mindanao [[10]] from downtown City of Cotabato City. The Elementary Annex located at Barangay Rosary Height-4, Cotabato City [[11]] in the same compound of Al-Burhan Mosque. Muslim institution’s role in the diffusion of beliefs, knowledge, law and culture derived from indigenous resources is historically significant.

From the 1990s and into 2000s the Islamic Academy at Sultan Kudarat took steps to solidify its status among Philippine universities, colleges and schools in spite of tuition gaps. [[12]] Credentialing value of career program first introduced at SKIA campus was outsourced with the help of DOST-SEI (Science Education Institute). In this way, both official and hidden curriculum had a profound effect not only upon Muslim images of the madrasah kulliyahbut more on Muslim education attitudes toward diversity and creativity. Thus, MECS Non-Formal Education Division in the region inaugurated an industry-supported career education program that prepared the accreditation of Islamic academy for open-door options. In best practice, personal change and the practical value of career guidance intervention have made student admission activity phase of SKIA Foundation College workable academic services today.

Mastery use of language and use of numbers are essential academic tasks for the core “liberal” arts general education. Specialization increasingly makes common learning impractical because of emergent career and technology education. Teaching practice in computing, communication, and critical thinking turn progress profile in terms of project-based “real world” learning experience for the integration of information technology. Commuter students at SKIA campus benefit from Starbooks (the first Philippine science digital library) that the DOST in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) established in 2017 at Sultan Kudarat to manage time and research efficiently. Advanced learning skills demonstrate Deployment of Early Warning System [[13]] as a device that provides a six hour lead-time warning to vulnerable communities against impeding floods. For practical purposes, DOST-DEWS will facilitate available technological data resources for the SKIA Faculty Learning Community.

Quite apart from improving SKIA trusteeship, shared responsibility (capacity structures with fewer layers of organizational hierarchy) lifts to high reliability the delivery system to overcome impediments to institutional operation. Madaris education at SKIA Foundation College currently realigns the duality of system to criterion standards and curriculum which found policy bases in DepED Order 41, s. 2017, in the K to 12 Basic Education Programs. With affordability of madaris education, the new policy now seeks to harmonize existing DEPED issuances on Muslim Education as a component of the national education system. [[14]]

Constituency and parental services-facilities at SKIA campus have expanded to the current programs of madaris education with fund support from Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM) project, and staff training extended to most similar madaris.

Madrasah Patronage   

The Sultan Kudarat Islamic Academy was conceived by lawyer Michael O. Matura, Engineer Darwish Al-Gobaishi, and religious leader Salah Muhammad Ali Abdula who were inspired by the First World Conference on Muslim Education held in Mecca in 1977.

Islamic Education is by definition an institutional system that transmits revealed and acquired knowledge in order to prepare learners for life as well as in educating the whole person, and for student learning as a goal of higher education. Motivation for madarsah patronage as a tithe levied for religious instruction is not impelled by status but traction. As notable founder Michael O. Mastura, who takes great pride in being accountable campus wakif or chief trustee, serves as the first President of SKIA Foundation College [[15]].

Disinterested contributors to this document track a story of “small college” functioning madrasah and constituting a body of teachers and scholars engaged in common pursuit—in this instance learning—with Qur’an recitation classes attached to a mosque. Transitioning gradual change at SKIA campus was seen an important step in the act of foundation from a religious site to one associated with madrasah kulliyah(Latin, collegium). When authority was transformed by the school Masters (acting collectively and distinctively) into academic standards the madrasah curriculum-as-experienced continuum accelerated enrollment with steady growth in resources apart from tax-exempt sponsorship.

Madrasah kulliyahclasses were opened initially under the legacy patronage of core lineage descendants of Sultan Kudarat. [[16]] Campus leadership involved internal dimension as concerns the legacy of Datu Mastura library collection [[17]], and family awqaf (bequests) or pious endowments.Externally, early benefactors (and philanthropists) insisted on establishing a wakaf (Arabic, pl. awqaf) which is identical to bequest of the act of charitable trust [[18]] subject to its rules and regulations. College growth factor defines the extinction of ownership of the dedicator in perpetuity in such a manner that its pecuniary benefits and all proceeds are applied to the beneficiary—the Islamic academy foundation—verified by a certified public accountant. [[19]]

Historical Antecedents

The present history of Sultan Kudarat Islamic Academy tracks the heritage of a Muslim institution relocated at Barangay Bulalo from the old town market of Salimbao in Sultan Kudarat (not to be confused with the province by the same name). [[20]] Although initially developed as a family-administered madrasah, it was the first-ever to operate and register under Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports Order No. 24, s. 1985. Pursuant to MECS guidelines and standards for recognition, this madrasah was later incorporated as a non-stock educational foundation with SEC REG. ANO91-195240 issued on September 2, 1991 until amended in 2017.

The Early Foundations

The Foundation College seal of SKIA bears the motto: “Read in the Name of Thy Lord.” Contemporary research informed by evidence found a learning communitywhere mosques served as the school houses in past centuries. Qur’an reading gave grounding in Arabic and how to use language and numeral, while manuscripts were tediously copied for private study. It makes sense to mention in passing the Sultan’s scribe or copyist as curator of genealogies was given prominence. By contrast, Catholic parochial schools grew along with the library of monasteries or convents, and the estates of religious orders were an essential factor in a college’s prosperity. The English explorer William Dampier who visited Magindanaw in 1687 provides an early account for historical backdrop: “They have schools, and instruct the children to read and write, and bring them up in their Mahometan (sic) religion” [[21]]. Spanish Jesuits describe also in the early 17thcentury how Sultan Kudarat’s followers were devoted “to their vein rites and rubrics a seriousness of attention.” [[22]] Early chronicles in fact can keep track of Muslim institutions to document their functioning properly within broad categories of instructional systems.

The founding date on the SKIA seal differs from the year when instruction actually began. Al-Masjid Qudrat dabbed “hub of life on campus” is a memorial. Earlier roots of Muslim centers resemble foundations of seminary institutions even though such a concept did not distinguish between secular and theological learning. Thus, in contemporary vision, the courtyard is the principal element to draw inspiration for SKIA campus model. Such is the Islamic academy, a modern campus—where “an architect’s re-conquest strategy” is the human scale in edifices. SKIA landscape site marks shared history in simple religious memorial architecture typically accentuated by mosque ensembles: the mihrab, the minbar, and the maqsur. [[23]]

Madaris founders saw the advantages of a quadrangle campus with ranges of building on four sides which were realized soon at the Islamic academy project to form the infrastructure of the institution. No traces of enclosed courtyard ruins have remained intact to give an idea of settled “concentric circle of mystic order” under structured environment of privacy for study or safety in case of troubles. Scottish navigator Thomas Forrest recorded in 1775 a visit to the Raja Muda’s fort called “Cota Intan” (Diamond Fort) around “six acres square strongly built with palisade of round trees twenty feet high.” [[24]] Surely, much like the urgent need for educated clerics, quarters for living and studying for learned persons (ulama) were the start of institutional plans to provide rooms for lectures or teaching.

Madaris mudirs (directors) too found earned credentials at entry level deeply ingrained on peer (lateral) evaluation. Men of credited ability to read and interpret writings of authoritative commentators were known as “pandita” in the past; others were conferred title as kadi (judge). Most learners too were attracted to reside in rural villages near specifically a place of worship called langgar, [[25]] for students in transition or under tutelage of a “guro” (master). Such foundational hurdles have resemblance at SKIA campus through survival seminars to augment the orientation (ta’aruf). So far in modern day practice a certificate or a diploma takes formality at SKIA campus upon a student’s completion of courses of study.

Students at SKIA Foundation College are bound by honor code at the start of the freshman year. As a rule, no fraternity or sorority being exclusivist is allowed on campus. Efforts to create a learning organization take intergenerational span. Overtime SKIA campus honors the dominant aspects of its Muslim heritage with an independent Board of Trustees committed to a common intellectual experience. Faculty members conduct weekly usrah(small-bond) of study group for a deepening of moral religious consciousness.

Eventful era of 20thCentury        

Forerunners of the Arabic school in Mindanao and Sulu were considerably mindful that Moro educational system remained underdeveloped under American rule. One madaris-environment interface examined was the impact of mandatory school attendance soon undermined the original purposes of public schooling. During the Commonwealth era Islamic institutions retained much of their vitality under pandita schools. [[26]] Some gurotutors performed what teaching existed outside the school structure of modern Republican state. Scholarship was evident in Najeeb Saleeby’s completing a series of papers on Moro history, law, and religion consisting of original studies and translations from Moro texts written in jawi [[27]] script. Sourcing those library holdings, Saleeby cited in The Moro Problem(1913) monograph: “Datu Mastura gave me access to his whole library most of which were religious manuscripts and books on law and magic”. [[28]] Saleeby who was at the time School Superintendent of the Moro Province showed keen interest in Moro vernacular education as an instrument of their cultural development.

Yet it was far from clear what indigenous learning institutions in this perspective embrace the sense of problemas hallmark of scientific rationality in cultural context. Along with legacy organization of church-run colleges the madaris provide education for a specific religious community. A continuum of intercultural activities might have more intellectual side, but the derivation for madaris culture in Islam ensues from a principle of communal leadership to norms in community engagement. Appreciating diversity in private campus poses challenge to value systems formed from culture, religion, or ethnicity. Academic transfer credits are crucial for SKIA campus to compete in the long-run niche ranking to fill up the teacher shortage in Muslim Mindanao region.

The story of panditas of the Rio Grande de Mindanao is that of “consummate calligraphers” [[29]] who preserved exemplary copies of the Qur’an dating back to the 16thcentury. Over approximately the entire modern era of 20thcentury they still formed the nucleus of religious mentors. Mysticisms of sufi dikhirtraditions of an earlier era endured throughout that period between two World Wars. Significant factors in the growth of scholarship with direct bearing on postwar education system encouraged Muslim intellectuals to pursue the matter independently. Most notable changes from the tutorial system at home were utilitarian: such as formal classes, curricula offering and classrooms complete with desks, chairs and blackboards. One short-lived intermediate level “Al Kulliyatul Istihadiyah” opened its doors in 1950 at the coastal town of Malabang with Arab and Indonesian visiting professors. In higher education, the Sulu Muslim College started with success but had only a short lifespan.

Whereas a liberal arts college translates to kulliyat al-adabin real terms its core general education component of the academic curriculum is western-type colleges, the “independent” schools or academies. School problems during the post-war period included lack of professional faculty with ability to teach Arabic and familiarity with western literature in their fields of disciplines.

The Muslim Association of the Philippines (MAP) sent students on educational mission to obtain the necessary training abroad. The first Conference held in Cotabato City in 1956 passed a resolution to seek scholarship assistance from Egypt, Pakistan, and Indonesia for Muslim students in Mindanao. [[30]] Quite soon succeeding generations of ulamareturned during the 1960s-1970s from advanced schooling in prestigious universities of the Middle East. They took the first step in the structures of disciplines on which the foundation stage was tied to age and grade levels.Madaris(schools), mahaad(institute) andmarkaz(center) were organized one after another in predominantly Muslim provinces pioneering: ibtidai-ya(primary) and sanawih-ya(secondary) levels; then tahdiriya(kindergarten) were added later. These changes in recent past evolved to categorize madaris with most similar school segments that retained or changed in character or name. Indeed, within twenty years or so, the organizational question for Muslim educators and planners was the reality beyond one-room schoolhouse model.

Overall what was revitalized as jamiyah(university) began with no administrative buildings or lecture rooms of its own. Organized in 1938, the Kamilol Islam Institute [[31]] served as forerunner of Jamiatul Philippine Al-Islamia [[32]] located in Marawi. Starting with factual firsthand survey of madaris (1972-1980) by Professor Ahmad M. Hassoubah provides a pattern of two types: one operating on regular school days and another on weekends, operating independently of each other without common standards or institutional ranking categories. For Department of Education (DepEd) updated classification, Dr. Manaros B. Boransing has identified general descriptive types of madrasah institution: traditional (weekend); developmental (formal); and standard private madrasah model. [[33]] The narrative is not over yet as central issues which have emerged stray into the next contemporary period.

The 21stCentury Growth  

Setting the stage for place improvement, the market town of Salimbao at Nuling that prospered from the pre-war Pulangi river trade had to be revived. Educational planning redirected the Islamic academy educators to confront the constraints faced by defunct Muslim institutions of charity school. Widespread slums, some of them near the site of the maktab(Arabic library learning center), got helping hands with resources from the corn and rice enterprises. Then a gravel road towards the riverside berth of lumber barges was built to dispel the reputation that a nearby Bulalo milling town acquired prior to relocating SKIA campus there. As elsewhere, industrial progress was slow to come and change would not be completed until another generation’s recovery from the vagaries of war. First generation enrollment was the big push for family awareness of independent (private) schooling.

Individual growth potential mattered on parallel situation of learning at religious institutes and secular schools side-by-side, which turned more serious with the arrival of foreign missionaries. Madaris system of teaching in former years was quite inadequate, and for most of its history private missionary schools were seen as progressive. From the second half of the 19th century onwards an even briefer word agitating Muslim thinkers and prodding educators was the theme of backwardness. A catalog of reawakening of Asian intellectuals at the 1958 Bandung Conference impelled serious approaches to “economic growth” via educational system that promotes progress and cultural unity. Considerably innovative ideas contained within it western law, and thus this aspect required new juridical institutions for governance of education.

Madaris educators recall in past era American Governors of the Moro Province were highly divided on the issue of giving assistance to the “pandita” schools. Instead, they established agricultural schools on the “land grant” junior colleges model as “Moro School”. [[34]] Similar goals and expectations from the Morrill Act spurred the land-grant movement: what spun it into orbit of junior colleges in the US was the impact of Smith-Hughes vocational education legislations and first-study of tribal colleges shaping America. [[35]] The educational context that college should offer more than the usual academic subjects has shaped the service philosophy of land-grant community colleges.

Common features and functions of American early land-grant colleges stressed new kinds of subjects: technology, agriculture, and applied sciences. Colonial vestiges of that era no longer mattered bearing new segments of postsecondary education. Overdrawn impact of history came long overdue: in 1954, Mindanao Institute of Technology in Cotabato was chartered with 5,129 hectares for agricultural instruction and research. MIT-Kabacan opened through the efforts of Bai Fatima Matabay Plang, a university scholar educated in the US together with Sulu Princess Tarhata Kiram. [[36]] Then, followed the Alonto-Mangelen-Amilbangsa congressional report strongly favoring a state university with a vision of “social laboratory for national integration” in Mindanao. Yet it nearly took ten years before Congress established in 1961 Mindanao State University-Marawi. [[37]] MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology acquired its own charter in another decade in 1975 [[38]].

Just to be more historical about the reality of that impact, the era of private enterprise arrived for philanthropic body at the Muslim Association of the Philippines (MAP). Wealthy Muslims began to independently pledge enduring contributions to create public confidence in colleges of Islamic institution and Arabic formal instruction. Muslim entity integrative support in 1956 filled a special niche through grants-in-aid of MAP-Filipino Muslim Education Board registered charity.  Events forced nearly all madaris to shut down or go underground when martial rule was imposed in 1972, exacerbating wider social and educational issues. (Parenthetically, cogent objection to the benefaction of the Marcos Foundation was of a different kind, despite pronouncement that the president wished to donate all his worldly possessions as example of ‘self-sacrifice to his people’. Much the same, the Muslim Education Foundation during Estrada’s presidency was not free from scrutiny of ‘ambiguities of altruism’.)

Science versus arts framework stretched the distorting effect of scientific dimension of culture to fit into the concept of secondary curriculum for all. Postsecondary education that adapted to changing conditions in the 1980s institutionally emerged into the forefronts of polytechnic colleges. Failure in past school curriculum planning to deal adequately with multiple issues related to duality of education generated supporters and opponents. Scientific dimension further exposed discernible effects of dual pattern of education for colleges of Islamic mission and vision. “Duality of education” means “having two types of education with two separate aims,” [[39]] starting at primary stage with special curriculum, and ending with college of Islamic and Arabic education. Such two-dimensional model cannot offer an exhaustive survey of Muslim curricular issues but broadly articulates essential Islamic contents producing graduates who usually work as teachers, mosque imams, or preachers.

Private patronage of the Muslim Religious Board of Cotabato (MRBC) treated such trend a phase of secondary rather than of higher education. Moving on to education work MRBC renamed itself a welfare society “Al-Jumiyah Al-Khairia” designing occupational programs to overcome the perceived dichotomy between “religious” and “secular” sciences. The stimulus was “to match what a learner knows” to subject in the course catalog. At first, the Carnegie unit-method was found to establish a criterion standard to define “education” versus “experience” and “activity” versus “credit” for prior experiential learning credits. This method that junior colleges used to determine how much credit to award a particular class was not pursued owing to limited funding and because of cumbersome profiles related to portfolio.

During the 1960s-1970s, the line between professional and nonprofessional had been drawn much sharply. Its technical impact on two-year postsecondary institution (whose highest credential awarded is the associate degree) was re-assessed in the Secondary Education Development Program (SEDP). Applying “open-door” college policy to SKIA campus was overtaken by outcome considerations incorporated into SEDP components. Entering the 1980s, pedagogical strategy expanded access of private schools in the scope of regionally accredited institution to participate in the program under the Educational Service Contracting (ESC). [[40]]

SKIA Foundation College

A firsthand account of SKIA Foundation College resembles a sourcebook to Muslim legacy organization mission grounded in practice and experience. Campus aspiration for memorial heritage evolves with self-appraisal into a coherent philosophy of operation in which the madrasah kulliyahhas hoped to act as a pioneer. Advocates of duality were keen to keep abreast with progress, if not to attain parity in standards (e.g. by training specialists in such areas as industry, civilization and modern technology). At this development stage, however, the continuing appeal of white-collar careers was stunting efforts to channel students into vocational-technical training.

Starting in 1985 the Islamic academy at Sultan Kudarat being a preparatory high school operated under the auspices of Al-Jumiyah Al-Khariah to enroll a batch of 325 students with 15 faculty and staff tasked to teach a special science class. The transition term of Datu Michael O. Mastura as president inaugurated the four-year degree granting college in 1993 not limited theology. Thus, SKIA campus transformed into a Foundation College began with seven-person faculty focusing on teacher education, pedagogy and learning environment based upon Islamic principles and values. The core features of curriculum infused with Islamic content at SKIA campus included coursework and remedial reading in Arabic and English. Varied preparations for college readiness in basic skills area (then pointers for stepping out into the workforce) and career readiness to follow up courses in the standard curricula are requisite competences for the work place.

The integrated approach to learning and school improvements yielded mixed results due to the bias towards academics, thereafter, inducing “unneeded skills” in rural education. SKIA trustees inclined toward orthodoxies sought to define the content and structure of alternative routes; others chose to revive traditions of integrating religious values into social studies. In order to keep pace renewed impetus for remedial Arabic teacher training paved the way for parallel efforts toward establishing “continua-minima” standards to formulate the areas of concentration and the teaching of Arabic linked to the understanding of the Qur’an. Collaboration as quality educational practice was initiated through Special Fund of the World Federation of Arabic Islamic International Schools (WFAIIS) headquartered at Riyadh partnering with the MRBC and its constituent madaris in Mindanao. The Office of Islamic Affairs coordinated the lived-in workshop: 1978 in Marawi, 1979 in Zamboanga City, and 1980 in Cotabato City.  The National Federation of Arabic Madaris of the Philippines and MRBC hosted a consultative conference in 1984 to formulate the guidelines for government recognition of madaris. [[41]]

Growth of the economic and business sector in Malaysia partly is seen as a spin-out of phenomenal growth of technology-industry that spurred demand for higher education appropriate performance. SKIA campus took the lead to develop bridging program standards between “vernacular competences” and “coping competences” in local context and purpose to deliver its curriculum projects. Understanding of Islam—and its social sciences—furthered concerns on how to manage the development of an Islamic holistic approach to contemporary situation and social reality. Successful pointers looked up to International Islamic University in Malaysia established in 1983 with qualitative goals following recommendations of the First World Conference on Muslim Education in Mecca in 1977. [[42]].

Governance and Leadership

Administrative leadership has a very different role in a degree granting four-year college than it is in community colleges. The five-member Board of Trustees governs SKIA Foundation College’s leadership, planning and resources. A Nominating Committee consisting of three Trustees is appointed at the Board’s regular September meeting in odd-numbered years. It is charged with preparing a slate of candidates to serve as Board chair, vice chair, secretary, and treasurer. The chair emeritus and vice chair are elected members of the Board, but the secretary, the treasurer, the comptroller need not be members of the Board. The chief trustee (wakif) is installed President and Chief Executive Officer by virtue of his office. The election of officers is conducted at the Board’s annual meeting in June of odd-numbered years. SKIA Board officers serve two-year terms.

While strategic planning serves many functions SKIA campus fosters institutional adaptation to resource links, and includes external-governance groups. Because the college context influences teaching, SKIA madrasah kulliyatadopts alternative planning techniques for “small college” environment and “co-campus” institutional model. Beyond initial teacher preparation, program demands of the 21stCentury aligned with K-12 are already articulated in currency of the Standard Madrasah Curriculum. [[43]] A good deal by now is known of the three levels of training that make up the key components of professional development, namely:

  • Pre-Service Training Level 1 LEAP (Language Enhancement and Pedagogy);
  • In-Service Training Level 2 ATEP (Accelerated Teacher Training Program); and
  • Professional Teacher (Entry Qualification for Competence to take the Licensure Examination for Teachers).

Areas of competences when taken to the next level are layered into years. Flexibility for distribution courses and transfer credits for a program with majors in Arabic language and Islamic studies must lead to certification or licensure. CHED CMO 30, s. 2008 covers related programs leading to AB in Islamic Studies even as policy is being reworked. [[44]] Further, the goal is to establish an Islamic Institute for Teacher Education. The model of teacher development which underpins school-HEI partnerships can encompass voluntary madaris compact for areas of consortium activity.

Co-Campus Sustainability

SKIA campus is located, just half-an-hour drive from downtown City of Cotabato toward the municipal town of Sultan Kudarat, province of Maguindanao. Proximity to the Great Mindanao River means the campus falls within the Pulangi Basin flood zones from the southern edge and the Simuay River to the northern end of the campus property. [[45]] SKIA main campus reflects sustainability of green environment: where a river estuary runs through it is known for its rustic and year-round beauty of flowering trees and swaying bamboos. Visitors can travel by motor vehicle across the Quirino Bridge or by boat ride along the scenic Rio Grande de Mindanao.


The SKIA Co-Campus buildings vary in age from the original madrasah and mosque construction for civic engagement with the local community. Al-Masjid Qudrat is part of the campus. There was reluctance to abandon the historical quad-style campus architecture and design starting with the construction of the administration building. Al-Mohairy Halls (1995) were three wings of the teaching facilities erected to respond to growing student population. Early into 2000s, a period of growth and building activity gave its Co-Campus a new image expanding improved facilities for computer workstation, student social hall, athletics and libraries.

SKIA Foundation College is not a residential college where students live on campus. The entrance atrium leading to the quad of the campus connects the administration and academic buildings surrounding the athletic arenas. The faculty housing is college owned with limited room arrangements ranging from singles to quads and apartments. Because SKIA campus began as a commuter college, the suburb needs to grow, if it is to prosper into a university town. Already the transformation has fast commuted it into a magnet for residences, shops and other business purposes.

Mixing old and new buildings on SKIA Co-Campus has brought a sense of visual design traditions and historical diversity. A technical-vocational skills training facility was built in 2011 under the Japan Grant Assistance for Grassroots Projects in keeping with the historical plant foundation. Erected in 2018, the newest renovated and expanded college construction is an outdoor-indoor study place that envelops the social hall environment with a double height ceiling and a scenic river walkway. Educational and supportive spaces or places for work stations are wired for use of technology. Contemporary ways of learning and teaching with new technologies push student life at SKIA campus to switch from theoretical to practical in Basic Education and College Readiness personal goals.

Elementary Annex

The Islamic Academy’s Elementary Annex campus is located at Gen. Luna Street, Barangay RH-4, Cotabato City where Al-Burhan Mosque is situated in the same compound. The site is easily accessible by means of public transportation. Community leaders in this residential area neighborhood support SKIA Annex’s advocacy for environmental responsibility and sustainability of green space that may be lost for repurposing use. This campus does not have grassy areas convenient for team games. But it makes for attractive and modern buildings that use sustainable resources to preserve architectural traditions.

Courses of Instruction


There has been little progress in measuring the products of madaris education in the Philippines. Consequently, it is important to provide context to “delivery system” for program of instruction, service and research. Specialized accreditation is part of this process for the type of Islamic academy within the broad categories and similar characteristics of the educational system on which the madrasah kulliyahinstitution is embedded. In the contemporary system of private college of arts, math and science, the students can take a variety of accredited undergraduate and graduate degree options. SKIA academic calendar follows the semester system. After reorganization in 1993, the College presently comprises six faculties:

  • Arts & Science
  • Arabic Language & Islamic Studies
  • Education
  • Office Administration & Secretarial Science
  • Information Computing Technology, plus the Library-Media Resource and Career & Technical Center.

Admission Matters

Programmatic guidelines are helpful to determine admission and also assess programs that are essential core of disciplines or appropriate to the work of a madrasah kulliyah.Academic remediation for entering students and assessment of academic skills are administered at SKIA campus as part of the admission process. Student diagnostic results, however, do not determine eligibility for matriculation at madrasah yet the motivation for graduating with a four-year degree needs anticipatory stance. They build on individual student portfolio compiled into progress file: academic work, co-curricular activities, and career and course interests. By this interactive tool, each kulliyah(faculty) directs and assists prospective and enrolled students to succeed by enhancing their theoretical and experiential learning—through internships, mentorships, field studies, volunteer opportunities and civic engagement.

Curricular Program

Basic Education is compulsory in the Philippines. Kindergarten to Grade 3 may be taught in the Mother Tongue. The Curricular Program offered builds on spiral approach to criterion standards to complete K-12 Curriculum: Early Child Education (Kindergarten); Elementary (Grades 1 to 6); Junior High (Grade 7 to Grade 10); and Senior High (Grade II to Grade 12); and Career and Technology TESDA Livelihood Tracks.

Baccalaureate Programs include the following: Bachelor of Arts (AB); Bachelor of Arts Islamic Studies (ABIS); Bachelor of Elementary Education (BEED); Bachelor of Secondary Education (BSED); Bachelor of Science in Office Administration (BSOA); Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT).

Graduate Studies

Based on modern educational system and research programs of the undergraduate level, graduate school is provided in the faculties. Graduate studies at SKIA are accredited for master’s program of study across disciplines. Every graduate student at SKIA campus faces challenging programs in a host of proactive opportunities for collaborative research, leading to Master of Arts in Education (Major in Educational Leadership & Management).

Faculty & Research

Many of the institutional research work done in the last twenty years have had little concrete application to madaris education. Research work at the Islamic academy occasionally had embarked on school-based management project. They have in recent past cooperated by conference or consultation with the Regional Management Project Committee in relation to common standard issues of the madrasah system. [[46]] Separate record keeping and doing research tied to budget cycle for the school voucher system are good starting points for “evidence-informed” practice of madaris to learn from other research.

Because research forms the backbone of guidance services at SKIA campus, faculty mentoring is at the core of academic advising with emphasis on student personalized instruction and support. SKIA faculty committee on academic standards designates faculty advisors who are knowledgeable about each student’s plan of study to chart and monitor degree completion or graduation rate. First year students are assigned a primary advisor from the staff in the Dean’s Office, while transfer and continuing students are assigned a primary advisor within their major.

Library and Archives

Considerably the problem sketched in previous sections was the dual system of education with two separate aims received by Muslims that shaped the design of the curricula and standards. This builds on another far-reaching influence that directs libraries beyond their repository function to include all learning and teaching media regardless of form. The library’s resource base extends to a Learning Resource Center (LRC).

Today at SKIA Foundation College a new library-media resource center is planned to rededicate Datu Mastura’s bequest of manuscript collection. It is located directly across the renovated Founders Hall with abundance of natural light and seating for individual and group study. Library search of primary scholarly sources in the social sciences and humanities are to be viewed and used in the Special Collection Reading Room.

Apart from a genuine desire for custodial preservation, in its foundation years Moro institutional library was built in small scale rather than grand or massive.   SKIA library-college media center houses the core collection and aims to collect, preserve, and make available archival, manuscript, printed, and visual records for regional and local history. Its archival materials include Bangsamoro peace collection of original documents and papers of historic value in the course of negotiations between government and the Moro liberation front.

Earlier research work of the of Islamic academy at Sultan Kudarat put to good use archival sources such as Luwaranand the Sulu Codex and to identify various growth points of the Malay Legal Digests. Collaborative partnerships between the UP Law Center and the Research Staff for the Codification of Muslims in 1974 have direct bearing at SKIA campus for continuing shari’a education. Years ago it was in similar context of a learning community of scholars that the first appointed shari’a judges were sent to Azhar University to acquire practical skills from the Judicial Institute in Cairo. The Supreme Court has now its own independent Philippine Judicial Academy. Scholarship and research work created pressure for putting up a shari’a training institute or review center for special bar examination.

Recognition and Representations

The SKIA School Identification (ID) Number is 476504. This institution is registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The college is accredited to administer program of study by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd). The Department of Education (DepEd) has approved its authority to operate Basic Education K-12 programs aligned to standard-based curriculum and to elementary standard madaris curriculum. Career programs that prepare learners for employment or in upgrading their skills are accredited by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

The connectivity of voluntary consortia to planning activity and for joint programming came late to madaris education. Communicating consensus and dialogue was facilitated through BEAM designating AAMCI to represent the madrasah sector in its Project Coordinating Committee. [[47]]

The most current effect of technical and funding support from the Philippines-Australia Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM) provided access to AAMCI-member schools and Muslim educators/owners or administrators to arrive at the Consensus for Madaris standard based curriculum. SKIA Foundation College is a co-founding organizer of the Accrediting Association of Muslim Schools and Colleges, Inc. (AAMSCI). Educational advantages that normally accrue from national consortia programs leave out madaris due to membership formality in which professional focus or strong affiliations of missionary orders are critical. Appraisal of institutional quality is done by accreditation survey instrument and self-survey analysis. [[48]] Clearly, it becomes a critical dimension for future compact programmatic accreditation.

[1]Refer to (http://lgu-profile.dilg-armm,.ph/) “Nuling” was the original name created by virtue of E.O. No. 82 (August 18, 1947). Renamed Sultan Kudarat under R.A. No. 5647 (June 12, 1969) it honors the 17thcentury legendary ruler of the Sultanate of Magindanaw.

[2]Cf. Maguindanao ( spelled without “ui” (disambiguation) as a sultanate extends geographically larger in area than the present province.

[3]Ref. Philippine  ( featuring Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat in public recognition as a national hero released on January 13, 1975.

[4]SKIA got Plato’s eight-century Academy label that Muslim privately-run schools in UK and US also use; (disambiguation) not to be confused with Sultan Kudarat Polytechnic State College created in 1990 out of DepED-supervised secondary schools converted to (

[5]Related post ( Sultan Kudarat (1581-1671), “Muhammad” is by tradition appended upon installation as Sultan; second regal title “Dipatuan” is of Malay origin.

[6]Ref. ABIS ( Cf. Zaytuna College (  first accredited Muslim liberal arts undergraduate college in the US founded in 2008

[7]Marites Danguilan Vitug and Criselda Yabes,   Jalan-Jalan,A Journey Through EAGA, ed. Paulynn Paredes Sicam (1998: Anvil Publishing), at pp. 182-185.

[8]SKIA spearheaded issuance of LOI 221 to upgrade the quality of madaris. Ref. ( “Guideline Standards for Recognition and Operation of Madaris” DO No. 24 (April 1, 1985).

[9] Search ( Sultan Kudarat Islamic Academy – new website of SKIA foundation college

[10]Retrieved from ( the second largest river system in the Philippines on the southeastern island of Mindanao

[11]Ref. Cotabato City ( chartered by R.A.2364 got its name from “Kota Watu” (stone fort), the historic seat of the Sultanate of Magindanaw.

[12]Ref. Early ranking list (

[13]DEWS Project ( first Starbooksawarded to SKIA.

[14]Retrieved from ( madaris as a component of the national education system

[15]Ref. ( Asian Muslims in the Era of Globalization(ed.) Ken Miichi, Omar Farouk-2014

[16]Related posts (;( mastura/)

[17]N.B. Ethnological Survey of 1903, Studies in Moro History, Law, and Religion(Vol. IV). Original studies and translations from Moro texts by Najeeb M. Saleeby were manuscripts copied from Datu Mastura’s library.

[18]Retrieved ( – DEPED unprecedented grants to private madaris after validation included SKIA annex.

[19]Ref. Islam and Society in Southeast Asia-viii (– wakaf institution; 1992 Annual Report and 1993 Annual Report of the Islamic Welfare Society of the Philippines

[20]Ref. ( – Sultan Kudarat province was carved out of the mother-province Cotabato along with north Cotabato and Maguindanao under P.D. No. 3411 (November 22, 1973).

[21]Ref. ( William Dampier, “A New Voyage Around the World”; reprinted in Travel Accounts of the Islands(1513-1787), 1971: Filipiniana Book Guild, at p. 49.

[22]Quoted in C. A. Majul, Muslims in the Philippines(UP Press, 1973), at p 101; see H. de la Costa, “A Spanish Jesuit among the Maguindanaus” (Philippine Historical Association, 1960), at pp. 85-86.

[23]Related post ( – niche (mihrab), pulpit (mimbar), closed-off-space (maqsurah)

[24]Ref. ( navigator – Forrest, A Voyage to New Guinea and the Moluccas 1774-1776(Oxford in Asia Historical Reprint, 1969) at p. 182.

[25]Magindanaw term synonymous to Malay “surao”; also refers to pondokin the Malay Peninsula and pesantrenin Java. Ref. Mohd. Taib Osman (ed.), Islamic Civilization in the Malay World(1997), at pp. 157-158.

[26]N. B. Peter Gowing, Mandate in Moroland (1977), at p.302. The “pandita” and “panglima” were distinguished for their knowledge of the Qur’an, reading and writing local dialect in modified Arabic script “jawi” or “kirim.”

[27]N.B. Samuel K. Tan Annotated Bibliography of Jawi Materials of the Muslim South, (UP-CIDS, 1996). Search for primary sources was part of the Mindanao Studies Program’s Jawi Documentary Seriesat UP.

[28]Ref. Keep in mind mysticism (; Datu Mastura belonged to tariqah institution. Related post carved out of Sultan Kudarat municipality.

[29]N. B. An account of the “panditas” (derivation of pundit) in Cotabato and Davao is found in Ferdinand Blumentritt, “Los Magindanaos, studio orthografico” (1893).

[30]Ref. Printed Proceedings,Second National Filipino Muslim Conference (October 11-16, 1956)

[31]Cf. Oldest madarsah in Lanao ( founded by Ahmad Bashier with purely Arabic studies; recognition of its English department was approved in 1986.

[32]Ref. ( founded by Dr. Ahmad D. Alonto accredited higher education institution.

[33]Ref. (; Cf. ( [PDF] Madrasah List seeking DEPED renewal of permits

[34]Upi Agricultural School (Maguindanao) ( still operates; the agricultural schools at Kudarangan (Cotabato) and Lumbatan (Lanao) were closed.

[35]Ref. ( Commission report, The Open-Door Colleges (1970)

[36]Ref. ( renamed, granted university status in 1978

[37]Ref. ( amended charter

[38]Related post( charter

[39]U.A. Al-Beely “The Islamic Concept of Educational Curricula” in Curriculum and Teacher Education(1980) on duality; Cf. ( education in Germany is a different curriculum

[40]Retrieved from ( free secondary education and educational service contracting scheme; Cf. ( expanded aid to student and teachers in private education.

[41]Retrieved from ( guidelines and standards for recognition and operation of madarsah; Related post (

[42]Ref. ( Islamic University of Technology in Dhaka established as a subsidiary organ of OIC

[43]Ref. ( Curriculum for Elementary Public and Private Madaris; EO No. 13-A ARMM – Refined Elementary Madrasah Curriculum

[44][PDF] CMO 30-s-2008 (pdf); (

[45]Retrieved from ( project well-managed drainage of Sultan Kudarat Islamic Academy

[46]FAPE Review, Volume 12, No. 3 & 4, (May 1982), Conference Summary Report. Partnerships continue between SKIA, NDEA-CEAP, and PEAC-FAPE (; related post ( system.

[47]Retrieved ( – a new page for Muslim Filipino students; Report 2009 prepared by Board chairperson Cabaybay D. Abubakar, accompanying the publication of AAMSCI Accreditation Manual.

[48]Related post (  Consortia of state and private universities, colleges and schools of various categories PAASCU, PAPSCU, CEAP, COCOPEA to mention the larger public-private groups.