The Davao City government’s Madrasah Comprehensive and Development Promotion Program under Mayor Inday Sara Duterte’s office has been in the forefront of providing quality education to Muslim youth.
It is also hoped to become an avenue for attaining peace and fostering understanding among Muslims and Christians in Davao City.
Madrasah Program Officer Basit Baraguir said this is one of the roles of the program, which was started in 2004 when President Rodrigo Duterte was still the mayor of the City. A year before, the city was rocked by two deadly bomb explosions.
“This program is the only one in the Philippines and it is concentrated not only on educating Muslim youth but also on attaining peace and order,” he said.
The Program Director, Alim Jamal S. Munib al Haj, is a graduate of Al Azhar University in Egypt.
The program had since been expanded under Mayor Inday’s term.
The program, now on its 14th year, has provided Muslim children with values education. It has also strengthened their faith in Islam, which is a very important factor in their formation.
“Once the children are taught proper Islam principles during their formative years they grow up to be ideal citizens,” Baraguir said.
Under the program, the city government provides funding for the salaries and wages of around 140 personnel, the majority of whom are teachers. The program has employed 127 Arabic teachers and 13 office personnel.
These teachers are responsible for teaching the children in the 49 traditional madrasahs or madaris all over the city. There are two private madaris registered with the Department of Education and they teach both English and Arabic.
But unlike the private madrasah where students meet daily, a traditional madrasah only holds classes during weekends from 8 am to 5 pm. A traditional madrasah offers free Arabic education from grades 1 to 6 and even high school.
The madaris in Salmonan, Mini Forest, and San Rafael in Toril have also served as halfway houses for Muslim children who have been displaced by the recent siege in Marawi City.
“In Salmonan alone we have around 400 students including the many bakwits (internally displaced persons) and also in San Rafael, there are also bakwits there,” he said.
Baraguir attributed the existence of many Muslim extremists or fundamentalists to the lack of proper education about the Koran.
“They may have misinterpreted some of the verses in Koran,” he said.
Through the traditional madaris, young Muslims are given the opportunity to understand true Islam. It is very important to teach young Muslims the ethics and image of Islam and the madaris strive to accomplish this with the help of the city government.
Baraguir said the traditional madaris are owned by the Muslim communities and have been there even before the program started. However, the system before was to pay volunteers from the community.
“It was only under Mayor Duterte when it was institutionalized,” he said.
The city’s madrasah program has produced six students who have graduated from quality Arabic schools and Baraguir said these graduates can compete with the best students from other countries. Four of these students are now taking advanced studies in Indonesia, one in Egypt and another one at the University of Madina in Saudi Arabia.
Baraguir’s brother, Samaon Abdulasis, studied elementary at the madrasah in Kabacan, Bucana and passed the examination given by the Al-Azhar University. He is now in law school and eyes more opportunities in Japan.
“He wants to go to Japan but I advised him to come back to Davao first and teach our young people,” he said. “By giving them a good foundation in Islam, we prevent them from becoming extremists.”
Baraguir said the young Muslims in the city have a lot of potentials but the traditional madaris can only do so much given their limited resources. There are even existing madrasah centers without Arabic teachers.
“We wish we have more Arabic teachers but despite the deficiencies, we did our best to provide excellent Arabic education to our children,” he said. (City Information Office)