COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 15 December) — The Commission on Higher Education of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (CHED-ARMM) and National Association for Bangsamoro Education, Inc. (NABEI) recenty conducted a Forum on Understanding Education Provisions of RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and sought support of educators for its ratification.
Participated in by 120 teachers and administrators from 14 DepEd-recognized private madaris, one CHED-ARMM-supervised institution and a technical school, the forum, held on Sunday, December 9, aimed to “make the participants understand the salient provisions as well as education provisions of what has been popularly referred to as Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), provide them a glimpse of the proposed Bangsamoro Ministry of Education, and seek their cooperation in supporting campaign activities for BOL,” NABEI President Dr. Ombra Imam, said.
In his welcome statement, CHED-ARMM Commissioner Dr. Amor Pendaliday informed the participants that his office has been supporting activities to enlighten educators on the law, particularly on its education provisions, to guide them to have an informed decision when they cast their vote during the plebiscite on January 21, 2019.
Presenting the education provisions of the law, Dr. Pendaliday showed the historical development of education in ARMM. He described that almost all education provisions in the BOL are copy-pasted from ARMM laws such as R.A. 6734 and R.A. 9054.
He lamented that some provisions like representation of ARMM in the Board of Regents or Board of Trustees of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in ARMM areas were not implemented and he hopes that same provisions stated in the BOL could be asserted by the new Bangsamoro government.
In order to immediately realize the creation of a Tribal University as stipulated in the BOL, Dr. Pendaliday proposed the amalgamation of eight non-chartered public tertiary institutions in ARMM into Bangsamoro Tribal University System with Upi Agricultural School as main campus.
He said this proposal was already submitted to MILF Chairman Al-haj Murad Ebrahim, the MILF’s nominee for Chief Minister of the MILF-led 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) that will govern the Bangsamoro during the three-year transition period. The BTA members will be appointed by the President.
Dr. Pendaliday posted some challenges to be confronted by the new government like merging of all education sectors under one ministry, and absence of clear plans for higher education as well as technical and vocational education.
On his part, Dr. Esmael Abdullah, head of the Technical Working Group of MILF Committee on Education, presented the “First Strategic Plan of the Bangsamoro Education and Culture Development” which included, among others, vision, mission, goals, objectives, and programs of the Bangsamoro education.
As provided by BOL, education is one of the powers granted to the Bangsamoro government. Based on his presentation, there shall be a Ministry of Education which envisions a “balanced and quality education for all.”
According to Dr. Abdullah, the proposed Bangsamoro Ministry of Education has five bureaus: Madaris, Islamic and Arabic Education; Basic Education; Higher Education and Tribal University; Vocational, Technical, Non-formal and Special Education; and Physical Education and Sports Development.
During the open forum, some participants suggested that the draft plan should consider inclusivity by catering to both Muslim and non-Muslim Bangsamoro learners. Such draft should also highlight plans for higher education, technical-vocational education, and private madaris as mandated by the BOL.
Meanwhile, Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo, Deputy Secretary General of United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) emphasized that, although the Bangsamoro government is granted full power on education, it should not set standards below the standards of Department Education to ensure transferability of students from Bangsamoro to other regions, recognition and accreditation of the education system outside the Bangsamoro region, and employment opportunities of graduates outside the Bangsamoro.
He stressed the need for a quality education. He said this could be measured when the head of education sends his children to a public school, otherwise, the quality of public education is questionable.
Responding to a query on the benefits of Cotabato City’s inclusion in the Bangsamoro, Sinarimbo, a trained technocrat and former ARMM Executive Secretary, explained golden economic opportunities for Cotabato City and its constituents, which could never be availed of by the city outside the Bangsamoro. He projected the coming in of various investments that will generate more jobs to residents of the city.
The forum was concluded with the adoption of various school-initiated activities in support of a yes vote for BOL such as display of tarpaulin at school gate and classrooms; display of BOL billboard in public places; conduct of BOL forum for PTA and community members; BOL advocacy during student assembly; BOL oratorical, video, slogan, poster and jingle contests; text brigade for Yes to BOL; volunteering during plebiscite to help family members and relatives, especially the elderly, to cast their yes vote; setting a school day for wearing a BOL T-shirt; reproduction of BOL campaign materials (stickers, pins, flaglets, buntings, bookmarks, ball pens, wristbands). Private schools were also encouraged to help reproduce campaign materials.
The participants also encouraged other schools — public and private — and educators especially those in the proposed Bangsamoro areas to take part in contributing to peace by doing similar activities in popularizing the BOL.
Participating schools at the forum included Upi Agricultural School, Aviation Technical School of Cotabato, Ibn Taimiyah Foundation Academy, Sakeena Islamic School, Al-Azharie Central Academy, Iqra Academy, Nahda Central Academy, School of Character, Dar Al Uloom wal Hikmah, Madrasah Datu Manguda Timan, Mohammad bin Al-Dhahiri Islamic School, Hadji Baganian Memorial School, Mahad Saada Al-Islamie, Madrasah A-Huzaim, Gani L. Abpi Colleges, Inc., and Datu Ibrahim Paglas College Foundation, Inc.
NABEI, which is registered with Securities and Exchange Commission and recognized by DepEd Central Office, is a non-government organization of 50 private madaris and private schools in Marawi City, Cotabato City, Davao City, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao.
It has been active in supporting the GPH-MILF peace process being a founding member of League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO), a network of multi-sectoral civil society organizations across Mindanao and Metro Manila, that is helping push the yes vote for BOL in Cotabato City. (Maripaz C. Abas contributed this piece. She is a Professor II at the Cotabato City State Polytechnic College, where she earlier served as Vice President for Academic Affairs. She holds a doctorate degree in Educational Management from the Notre Dame University).