Meet-and-Greet with Education Minister Mohagher M. Iqbal with AHME scholars in Tawi-Tawi
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By EDD K. USMAN | Twitter: @edd1819 | Instagram: @bluestar0910 | Facebook: SDN — SciTech and Digital News
BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi (SDN) — Hundreds of scholars of the Bangsamoro Access to Higher and Modern Education (AHME) had the time of their lives in a meet-and-greet opportunity on May 14, 2013, with Education Minister Mohagher M. Iqbal during his 5-day visit to Sulu and Tawi-Tawi- provinces.
In Tawi-Tawi alone, 300 (belonging to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cohort) of the province’s 446 AHME scholars joined the meet-and-greet at the Bongao Gymnasium.
Iqbal, head of the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE), gave emphasis to meet-and-greet activities with AHME beneficiaries during his visit to municipalities of Banguingui on Tongkil Island, Jolo, Patikul, Panamao, Talipao, and Siasi (all in Sulu) and in Languyan Island and Bongao (municipalities of Tawi-Tawi). He brought with him a high-powered delegation from the MBHTE for his visit was on May 10 to 15.
He emphasized time and again in each of his itinerary that the visit, aside from bringing around Php70 million worth of IT equipment and supplies for teachers and learners in the two provinces, was to meet, listen and learn about concerns, issues, and problems on the ground with school stakeholders. And getting them personally first-hand so that solutions could be discussed.
In his Bongao stop, he mentioned to teachers and students and pupils a lesson of humility in leadership in Islam.
“Even how high you have reached in life, one of your feet should always stay on the ground,” Iqbal said, describing this as being a “leader-servant”.
Many of the beneficiaries of the AHME Scholarship Program are either children, grandchildren, or close relatives of former combatants of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Incidentally, “AHME” may also stand for “Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim”, presently the Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and chairman of the MILF. BARMM is being governed on a Moral Governance principle by the MILF since 2019 owing to the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). The CAB, signed by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF, is being implemented by the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
Jonathan Omar, focal person of the scholarship program, told SDN — SciTech and Digital News the AHME Scholarship Program that started in 2020 today has 1,400 scholar-beneficiaries region-wide.
Four school building projects for municipalities of Bongao and Tandubas
The Bangsamoro region is made up of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Marawi, as well as the SGA’s 63 barangays voted “Yes” in a plebiscite in February 2019 to be under the BARMM jurisdiction.
According to the Philippine Atlas, BARMM has 4,404,288 people. It has 116 municipalities: Basilan, 11 municipalities; Lanao del Sur, 39; undivided Maguindanao, 36; Sulu, 19; and Tawi-Tawi, 11. Its component cities are Cotabato (the regional center and capital) in Maguindanao del Norte; Lamitan in Basilan; and Marawi in Lanao del Sur.
The BARMM scholarship program started in 2020. Each qualified scholar, who must be in first college, are granted Php60,000 that covers all expenses.
Omar said the scholarship grant is given to a student upon submission of complete documents that include Certificate of Enrollment, Semestral Grade Rating, and others.
“However, the release of the scholarship fund to a scholar’s ATM Card depends on whether a prescribed general weighted average (GWA) is maintained,” he pointed out.
He added that region-wide scholar-beneficiaries are presently 4,200, including scholars for Academic Year 2023-2024 as the selection process is ongoing.
The first batch beneficiaries of the AHME Scholarship Program 1,400, are set to graduate next year. Of the AHME slots, each province is allotted 100 scholars, 50 for a city and the SGA.
Iqbal’s MBHTE is aiming for one professional in each Bangsamoro family.
The Bangsamoro AHME Scholarship Program is under the Director for Higher Education of the MBHTE, one of the 15 primary governance organs of the BARMM.
While in Bongao, the MBHTE broke ground for a new school building project at the Hadji Yahiya Biste Elementary School, Barangay Pasiagan, Bongao. The MBHTE also has new school building projects for Keeping Elementary School, Keeping Elementary School Annex, and Buton Primary School, all in TAwi-Tawi’s Tandubas municipality.
The SDN learned from MBHTE the four school building projects have an average cost of Php4.5 million each. (✓)