A floating school for Badjao children

Badjao children with their catch of star fish at the shore of Lanawan Island in the municipality of Tabuan Lasa, Basilan. Mayor Muctar Junaid is planning to build a floating school for the seafaring Badjaos, most of whom can’t last long in the usual schools. MindaNews photoTABUAN LASA, Basilan (MindaNews/30 March) – The mayor of this newly created municipality is eyeing to put up a floating school for Badjao children.

In an interview at the sidelines during the town’s third founding anniversary celebration last Tuesday, Mayor Muctar Junaid noted that Badjao children seldom finish school, even in the elementary level.

“They stop going to school because other children, especially those from other tribes, tease them,” lamented Junaid. “The Badjaos seem to have inferiority complex.”

Because Badjaos are accustomed to live in houses on stilts by the beach or in small boats, the mayor said that a floating school might just get the children to attend school.

He said they will feel “like they are at home while studying” since Badjaos are referred as boat people.

The mayor said the floating school will have the same curriculum as any other elementary school under the Department of Education (DepEd).

He is hopeful that Badjao children could finish their studies, even just up to high school, with a floating school in place.

Junaid said it would be a Catamaran-type or a wooden hull vessel.

He promised to personally bring the matter to Vice President Jejomar Binay Education Secretary Armin Luistro so they could set aside funds for the project, adding that the municipal government is willing to allocate counterpart funds.

Hundreds of Badjao children can be seen loitering or playing around Lanawan Island here as there are hundreds of Badjao families settled in this municipality.

Aside from Lanawan, hundreds of Badjao families are also settled in the islands of Tapiantana, Bubuan and Saluping that form part of this town.

Tabuan Lasa was created out of the 12 barangays of Sumisip municipality by virtue of Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 187 ratified in a plebiscite on March 29, 2008. (MindaNews)