DAVAO CITY – The central office of the Department of Education (DepEd) and its partner nongovernmental organizations vowed to work together to further improve the quality of education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Education Assistant Secretary G.H Ambat said the DepEd national office will work together with the people of ARMM to achieve its goal in terms of education. “I am happy that we’re here to discuss not any crisis in the region, but the development of education in the ARMM. Pareho tayong mga Pilipino na ang pangarap ay magkaroon ng maayos na pamumuhay at makakamit natin ito sa pamamagitan ng maayos na edukasyon,” Ambat said.
Crisanto Cayon, United Nations Children’s Fund emergency specialist, said that for years they have seen how the ARMM has been coping in meeting the national standards for education. “The ARMM really improved in the education sector. Its attempt in hiring qualified teachers, empowering teachers and supporting them in their quest to provide quality learning opportunities for learners are highly commendable,” he said.
To date, ARMM has 25,000 teaching and non-teaching personnel catering the region’s 861,628 students in 2,670 elementary and secondary schools.
The UNICEF, Cayon said, is satisfied to see ARMM create a healthy, safe and protective environment for learners, as well as in encouraging children to get into the school through its feeding program.
Lawyer Rasol Mitmug Jr., DepEd-ARMM Secretary, said their partner NGOs have a big role in improving the quality of education and in strengthening the delivery of education services in the region. “Bringing all the stakeholders makes the improvement in education sustainable,” he said. “We are happy that many organizations show willingness to support and help the ARMM in terms of improving the education for the future of the Bangsamoro children.”
Ambat said: “The DepEd central office will surely focus on the needs of the people of ARMM. And I’m confident that the ARMM will definitely prosper and will catch up. I am glad that the ARMM and its partner organizations and agencies were working and contributing a lot for the betterment of education in the region.”
She also assured DepEd will continue its drive to bring out-of-school youth back to learning.
Mitmug also said that a total of 125,004 children and youth affected by last year’s conflict in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur province will benefit the ARMM’s “Back to School and Stay in School Program” launched here July 9.
He said this is to ensure learners are able to go back to school or access learning through the provision of basic education services, skills training, and peace-building. “This is part of the ARMM government’s response for conflict-affected individuals in Marawi and Lanao del Sur,” Mitmug said.
DepEd-ARMM intensifies interventions in areas affected by Marawi conflict
Mitmug also said they have intensified interventions for affected school children to ensure they would go back to school. Mitmug said a program dubbed “Back-to-School and Stay-in-School” (BTS/SIS) they launched on July 9 is part of the ARMM government’s response for the conflict-affected population in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur.
The program is an inter-organization initiative for conflict-affected learners to ensure that they will go back to school, or access learning through the provision of basic education services, skills training and peace-building, according to the official.
He said BTS/SIS which started in June will run up to March 2019 in 18 towns in Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte, including Marawi City. DepEd-ARMM will partner with government agencies and 18 nongovernmental organizations to implement the program.
Cayon said UNICEF is one of the partner agencies in BTS/SIS and added the initiative needs support for other concerns to complement that of the education sector. Among these are peace- building in communities, peace education in schools, psycho-social support services for displaced children, livelihood support, skills training and others, he said.
Alfhadar Pajiji, DepEd-ARMM Assistant Secretary for Special Programs and Projects, also underscored the agency’s interventions in response to the Marawi conflict. He said they have constructed 47 temporary learning shelters in Marawi City.
And that DepEd-ARMM has also implemented catch-up education program for some 2,363 kindergarten pupils in Marawi and neighboring towns. “From April to May 2018, we have implemented Kinder Catch-up Education Program among school children who failed to enroll in kindergarten classes because of last year’s siege of Marawi (by Maute Group). It is an 8-week catch-up education program for those who are unable to attend or finish any kindergarten education during the school year,” Pajiji said.
Pajiji said to address health and nutrition issues among affected school children, DepEd-ARMM partnered with Gawad Kalinga for its regular feeding program and provision of Central Kitchen. Two feeding centers are located in Marawi City and one in the town of Saguiran in Lanao del Sur. (Bureau of Public Information)
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