CHED-ARMM, NABEI conduct Forum on BOL education provisions

Cotabato City - The Commission on Higher Education of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (CHED-ARMM) and National Association for Bangsamoro Education, Inc. (NABEI) this Sunday, December 9, conducted a whole-day Forum on Understanding Education Provisions of Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and sought support of educators for ratification of the organic law.

Participated in by 120 teachers and administrators from 14 DepEd-recognized private madaris, one (1) CHED-ARMM-supervised institution and another one (1) technical school, this forum, held in Cotabato City, aimed to “make the participants understand the salient provisions as well as education provisions of BOL, provide them a glimpse of the proposed Bangsamoro Ministry of Education, and seek their cooperation in supporting campaign activities for BOL”, according to NABEI President Dr. Ombra A. Imam.

In his welcome statement, CHED-ARMM Commissioner Dr. Amor B. Pendaliday informed the participants that his office has been supporting activities to enlighten educators on BOL particularly its education provisions that would guide them to have an informed decision when they cast their vote during the plebiscite on January 21, 2019. 

Presenting the education provisions of BOL, Dr. Pendaliday showed the historical development of education in ARMM up to its present form as stipulated in the BOL.  He described that almost all education provisions in the BOL are copy-cut from ARMM laws such as R.A. 6734 and R.A. 9054. 

He lamented that some provisions like representation of ARMM in the Board of Regents or Board of Trustees of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in ARMM areas were not implemented and he hoped that same provisions stated in the BOL could be asserted by the new Bangsamoro government. 

In order to immediately realize the creation of a tribal university as stipulated in the BOL, Dr. Pendaliday proposed the amalgamation of 8 non-chartered public tertiary institutions in ARMM into Bangsamoro Tribal University System with Upi Agricultural School as main campus and this proposal was already submitted to MILF Chairman Al-haj Murad Ebrahim. 

He posted some challenges to be confronted by the new government like merging of all education sectors under one ministry, and absence of clear plans for higher education as well as technical and vocational education. 

On his part, Dr. Esmael Abdullah, head of Technical Working Group of MILF Committee on Education, presented the “First Strategic Plan of the Bangsamoro Education and Culture Development” which included, among others, vision, mission, goals, objectives, and programs of the Bangsamoro education.  

As provided by BOL, education is one of the powers granted to the Bangsamoro government.  Based on his presentation, there shall be a Ministry of Education which envisions a “balanced and quality education for all”. 

According to Dr. Abdullah, the proposed Bangsamoro Ministry of Education has five bureaus such as “Madaris, Islamic and Arabic Education; Basic Education; Higher Education and Tribal University; Vocational, Technical, Non-formal and Special Education; and Physical Education and Sports Development”. During the open forum, some participants suggested that the drafted plan should consider inclusivity by catering to both Muslim and non-Muslim Bangsamoro learners. Such draft should also highlight plans for higher education, technical-vocational education, and private madaris as mandated by the BOL. 

Meanwhile, Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo, Deputy Secretary General of United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) emphasized that, although the Bangsamoro government is granted full power on education, it (education) should not be below the standard of Department Education to ensure transferability of students from Bangsamoro to other regions, recognition and accreditation of the education system outside the Bangsamoro region, and employment opportunities of graduates outside the Bangsamoro. He stressed the need for a quality education and believed that this could be measured when the head of education sends his children to a public school; otherwise, the quality of public education is questionable.  

Responding to a query on the benefits of Cotabato City to be included in the Bangsamoro, Atty. Sinarimbo, a trained technocrat and former ARMM Executive Secretary, explained golden economic opportunities for Cotabato City and its constituents, which could never be availed of by the city outside the Bangsamoro. He projected the coming in of various investments that will generate more jobs to residents of the city.     

The forum was concluded with the adoption of various school-initiated activities in support of a yes vote for BOL such as display of tarpaulin at school gate and classrooms; display of BOL billboard in public places; conduct of BOL forum for PTA and community members; BOL advocacy during student assembly; BOL oratorical, video, slogan, poster and jingle contests; text brigade for Yes to BOL; volunteering during plebiscite to help family members and relatives (especially old ones) to cast their yes vote; setting a school day for wearing a BOL T-shirt; reproduction of BOL campaign materials (stickers, pins, flaglets, buntings, bookmarks, ball pens, wristbands), and financial investment for winning the yes vote in Cotabato City.   The participants also encouraged other schools (public and private) and educators especially those in the proposed Bangsamoro areas to take part in contributing to peace by doing similar activities in popularizing the BOL.

Participating schools included Upi Agricultural School, Aviation Technical School of Cotabato, Ibn Taimiyah Foundation Academy, Sakeena Islamic School, Al-Azharie Central Academy, Iqra Academy, Nahda Central Academy, School of Character, Dar Al Uloom wal Hikmah, Madrasah Datu Manguda Timan, Mohammad bin Al-Dhahiri Islamic School, Hadji Baganian Memorial School, Mahad Saada Al-Islamie, Madrasah A-Huzaim, Gani L. Abpi Colleges, Inc., and Datu Ibrahim Paglas College Foundation, Inc.

NABEI, which is registered with Securities and Exchange Commission and recognized by DepEd Central Office, is a non-government organization of 50 private madaris and private schools in Marawi City, Cotabato City, Davao City, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao.  It has been active in supporting the GPH-MILF peace process being a founding member of League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO), a network of multi-sectoral civil society organizations across Mindanao and Metro Manila, that is helping push the yes vote for BOL in Cotabato City#.