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DAVAO CITY – Despite having a mean score lower than the national average, the National Achievement Test (NAT) performance of students in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has been on a steady uptrend during the last 5 years, according to lawyer Rasol Mitmug, DepEd-ARMM Secretary.
Mitmug said issues affecting learners’ performance include the quality of teachers, the contact time between teachers and students, and managing the effects of either natural or man-made calamities.
He said the department has been working closely with the national government and nongovernmental institutions in providing high quality education in the region.
As part of the regional government’s response to the aforementioned issues, DepEd-ARMM has remained strict in hiring new teachers. Just recently, a total of 765 new teachers in Maguindanao province and had signed their appointment and deployment orders during an acceptance and mass oath-taking ceremony held in Cotabato City. 
The teachers were hired after they passed a strict hiring process that includes Assessment and Competency Examination for Teachers in ARMM, an interview and a teaching demonstration. New teachers in other provinces will sign similar orders in the coming months.
“Dati po ang problema ng DepEd-ARMM ay kakulangan ng eligible teachers, ngayon naman ay magandang balita po, marami na ang mga eligible teachers na naga-apply sa rehiyon,” said Assistant Secretary Sittie Mariam Balahim.
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman has urged newly-hired teachers to fulfill their vital role as part of the workforce of the region’s Education department. “Ang kinabukasan, kabutihan, at kaunlaran ng edukasyon sa rehiyon ay nakasalalay sa inyong lahat. Nakikiusap kami na magturo kayo ng maayos at gagawin rin namin ang mga bagay na nararapat sa inyo,” he told the new teachers.  
Mitmug said one of DepEd-ARMM’s strategies in providing quality education is by using orthography. “Kung mapapansin ninyo po sa ARMM hindi lang isang lenguahe ang ginagamit natin, mayroong Yakan, Tausug, Maguindanaon, Maranao, at iba pa,” he said, adding, language plays a vital role in the literacy of the children.
“Nagpo-produce rin po kami ng mga big books na nakasulat sa localized language. Nagbibigay rin kami ng worksheets and additional learning materials, nang sa ganoon ay may mai-uuwi sa bahay ang mga bata at mapag-praktisan nila ang mga natutunan nila sa paaralan,” he said.
He added that DepEd-ARMM also beefed up its data collection and management systems to eliminate ghost schools and students and develop plans that are evidence-based that aid in decision-making.
In 2015, ARMM’s literacy rate bounced to 88.7% from 80.3% in 2010. As of school year 2017-2018, ARMM has 861,628 students and 2,670 schools in both elementary and secondary levels. (Bureau of Public Information)
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