By EDD K. USMAN, SDN, Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: Science, Digital & Current Affairs
(SDN) — ONE professional in every family. At least one.
The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is targeting that goal, apparently, to lift the education index substantially of the newly-minted BARMM.
BARMM Education Minister Minister Mohagher Iqbal enunciated this during a convention in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam in a speech titled BARMM Educational System: Plans and Direction. He heads the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE), one of the BARMM line agencies.
He laid down 11 priority areas, collectively the direction the new autonomous region, a product of the 17 years old peace negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government (GPH), will take in the coming years.
The direction includes providing education for BARMM students to produce more professionals.
“We aim to produce (at least) one professional in every family in the BARMM. It will not matter if our young professionals will graduate from a traditional academic institution or a technical-vocational training center,” he said.
Today’s BARMM headed by Interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al-Hajj Murad” Ebrahim, the MILF chairman, has three years to put in place the new autonomous region’s governing structure, among other features of governance.
In July this year, Ebrahim identified the Bangsamoro government’s 12-point priority agenda, not the least education.
Education ministry biggest in BARMM
Iqbal, who wore many hats in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), one of them as chief negotiator in the decades-long peace process with the GPH, discuss wide-ranging topics at the 35th ASEAN Council of Teachers +1 Convention in the Brunei.
ASEAN stands for Association of Southeast Asian Nations, comprising of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Members of the Philippine Public School Teachers Association (PPSTA) participated in the event.
Iqbal, vice chairman for Information Committee of the MILF, acknowledged a gauntlet of concerns the MBHTE is facing.
He said the ministry is the biggest BARMM agency, “where around 60 percent of the employees report…teachers, school nurses, and other non-teaching personnel.
But while it’s the largest organization in the BARMM, it also has a commensurate “gamut of its problems and difficulties.”
“Unfortunately, we do have serious resources gaps, and our educational system is unsatisfactory compared to the standards in Metro Manila,” he revealed.
The ministry is hopeful about turning things around anchored on the Mindanao peace process.
“Nevertheless, we in the BARMM shall build on the gains of the peace process and institute relevant programs and reforms that would have an immediate impact on the lives of our people. The 50 years of the Bangsamoro struggle provides us the needed inspiration to move forward and fulfill our respective mandates,” said the education minister.
Iqbal then enumerated the education ministry’s “general direction or priority areas.”
1. Prioritizing our children and young people. In the MBHTE, our rallying cry is “no child in the Bangsamoro left behind.” We, therefore, have to improve the educational system in the Bangsamoro and look into policies, programs, and activities to enhance the performance of every child, from the accessibility of essential school facilities and materials to the quality of their teachers.
2. Accessible education for all. We envision that the educational system in the Bangsamoro shall embody a quality standard with a broad, relevant, and inclusive curriculum. Education in the Bangsamoro should be accessible to all students – Moro, Christian or IP or in Bahasa Malay, “Orang Asli” – and will guarantee equal opportunity to all graduates regardless of their chosen field.
3. One professional per family. We aim to produce (at least) one professional in every family in the BARMM. It will not matter if our young professionals will graduate from a
traditional academic institution or a technical-vocational training center. What is essential these establishments offer a curriculum that is relevant for employability – and save us from Hellfire, in the day hereafter.
4. Quality teachers and school administrators/ heads. To help our students, we need excellent teachers and school administrators. The Bangsamoro teachers and school officials should be well trained, competent, and adequately compensated. In turn, this will increase their ability to teach and facilitate the learning of our children.
5. School as a safe space for learning and development. In addition to competent teachers and administrators, our schools should be secure and have the appropriate facilities to encourage learning. Any academic or technical institution should serve as space where bright ideas are born, nurtured, and realized. It should be a place for innovation where every student shall have the opportunity to develop his or her
interests and decide a career path that would be beneficial also to the Bangsamoro.
6. The welfare of students with disabilities. Furthermore, we should create safe and inclusive school environments for students with disabilities and additional needs. A
comprehensive program for them would include developing the knowledge and skills of school staff and giving schools clearer guidance and specialist support to better respond to the needs of students with disabilities.
7. Comprehensive health and nutrition program in schools. We hope our young people and future generations would be the vanguards of tomorrow. Hence, we need to
guarantee that they are not only well-educated but in good health. Education and health will help our children and youth to take on the challenges of leading the Bangsamoro nation in the future. A healthy body produces a healthy and sound mind, which is critical for future leaders in their decision-making process and nation-building.
8. Encourage parents to invest in education. The MBHTE hopes to encourage the parents to invest in education and respond to their children’s intellectual needs. We have to make them understand that without training, their children are robbed of a potentially bright future.
9. Working with local community leaders. The MBHTE shall work closely with community leaders and local government units in the implementation of relevant educational programs and other frontline services at the community level.
10. Good governance practices. Mindful of the need to improve the Bangsamoro educational system, we must introduce reforms within the regional government. For
instance, one of our priorities is the improvement of the Ministry’s internal processing systems to promote good governance practices and transparency and accountability. In
the MBHTE, we will not tolerate any exercise that could trigger poor governance and corruption. In connection to this, we have plans of establishing a robust and functioning monitoring and evaluation system to record and assess the progress of education programs and projects implemented in communities.
11. Learning good practices from international experience. We need to learn from the best education practices among ASEAN countries and peoples, especially the Malay world – Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia. We look to you for inspiration especially in the field of Islamic education.
Sounds impossible, the BARMM education ministry’s task ahead.
The education ministry is undaunted. (SDN)