United States Backs BARMM’s ‘No Child Shall Be Left Behind” Advocacy on Education

Credit: US Embassy.
“We will work together to ensure that no Bangsamoro child will be left behind by providing inclusive and sustainable education.”

— USAID Deputy Mission Director Rebekah Eubanks

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By EDD K. USMAN | Twitter: @edd1819 | Instagram: @bluestar0910 | Facebook: SDN — SciTech and Digital News

MANILA (SDN) — The United States through the US Aid for International Development (USAID) supports the literacy drive of the Bangsamoro government aimed at enabling every child in the region to become literate.

Implementing the literacy campaign in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) headed by Minister Mohagher M. Iqbal, who wears many hats in the Mindanao peace process.

In October 2020, Iqbal, chair of the Peace Implementing Panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), filed before the BARMM Parliament Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament Bill No. 70, the Bangsamoro Education Code (BEC) which is also known as “An Act providing for the establishment, maintenance, and support of a complete and integrated system of quality education in the Bangsamoro”.

USAID and partners strive to introduce innovations leading to continuity

One of the highlights of BTA Bill No. 70 is MBHTE’s advocacy named “No Bangsamoro Child Shall Be Left Behind”. The Parliament unanimously passed the BEC on May 18, 2021.

Iqbal’s passion to provide education for every child in the Bangsamoro region has found a strong ally with the USAID.

On March 14, as reported by GMA News Online, USAID Deputy Mission Director Rebekah Eubanks visited the Cotabato City — BARMM’s seat of government — as the American aid agency launched a technology-based Php15-million reading program for the children of the region.

USAID’s “Beginning Reading Program” if implemented region-wide would benefit tens of thousands of young children. For now, the initiative will be implemented in pilot areas, which as of press time were not yet identified.

Façade of the of Main Building of the BARMM Government that houses the Office of the Chief Minister. (Photo: SDN — SciTech and Digital News)

The Bangsamoro region, established in 2018 by the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) to implement the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), is made up of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao (now split as Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte), Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Marawi, as well as the 63 barangays or villages dubbed Special Geographic Area (SGA) that voted “yes” in a plebiscite in February 2019 to be under the BARMM jurisdiction.

According to the Philippine Atlas has 4,404,288 people. It has 116 municipalities: Basilan, 11 municipalities; Lanao del Sur, 39; Maguindanao, 36; Sulu, 19; and Tawi-Tawi, 11. Its component cities are Cotabato (the regional center and capital) in Maguindanao; Lamitan in Basilan; and Marawi in Lanao del Sur.

The US Embassy Manila’s Eubanks was joined in the launch rites by Mohammad Asnin K. Pendatun, BARMM Cabinet secretary, and lawyer Haron Meling, MBHTE deputy minister.

Eubanks said USAID is working with its partners in the national and local government levels “to introduce innovations that will ensure learning continuity and improve literacy, including reading proficiency of early grade learners”.

BARMM aspires for graduates carrying high moral values

The American official assured continuing support by the US government to BARMM as the regional government provides learners with quality education and the competencies to empower them “to thrive and have successful futures”.

USAID Deputy Mission Director Rebekah Eubanks and Cotabato City Mayor Muhammad Bruce Matabalao. (Credit: US Embassy Manila via Nash Maulana)

Meling cited USAID’s assistance for BARMM’s children.

“We welcome the Beginning Reading Program as it will ensure the learning of children through portable video devices that can work even without internet,” Meling said.

“We will work together to ensure that no Bangsamoro child will be left behind by providing inclusive and sustainable education,” emphasized Eubanks.

Meanwhile, as reported by GMA News Online, the American government also donated an Automated Weather Station (AWS) equipment to Cotabato City local government for use in collecting weather and climate data that will provide real-time monitoring and assessment of the weather. The collected data will then be analyzed “to enhance the city’s disaster management and mapping capabilities, contributing to the region’s climate resilience”.

In receiving the AWS equipment, Cotabato City Mayor Muhammad Bruce Matabalao noted the importance of sharing experiences to build a resilient city.

As early as 2019 when the BARMM was created as new political entity (NPE), Iqbal already enunciated a policy to undertake reform in the Bangsamoro education system, saying it should also produce graduates equipped with “high moral value”, not just “competent graduates”. (✓)

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