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Sep 29th
Education: Part of long-term solutions f PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 02 March 2010 14:38
Education: Part of long-term solutions for peace in Mindanao MANILA, -- The Philippine government is confident that the people in Mindanao would eventually live together in peace, working as caring neighbors for their mutual economic prosperity and social progress through education. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has pushed for the integration of the Madrasah into the country’s basic education system as part of the government's peace efforts. The President said, "One of the keys to the future of Mindanao, especially among the youth, is their education.” On the part of the Department of Education (DepEd), the agency is stepping up its efforts to provide quality education to Muslim public school children through the Madrasah Program. Launched in 2004, the program is part of DepEd’s Muslim Basic Education Roadmap, which is in response to the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) and the GRP-MNLF (Government of the Republic of the Philippines-Moro National Liberation Front) Peace Agreement. Education Undersecretary for Muslim Affairs Manaros Boransing said, “This is the department’s modest yet significant contribution to peace-building efforts by government and non-government agencies.” Boransing said that the program aims to positively contribute to the ongoing peace process and to make the public education system more inclusive. It also seeks to improve the quality of life among Muslim school children through education. “This is to prove the sincerity of the department in providing free, quality education to all public schoolchildren, regardless of ethnicity or religious affiliation," he said. Education Secretary Jesli Lapus stated, “We recognize the critical role of education in peace-building. The school is where minds are formed and values are enhanced." The department also earmarked some P20 million as financial assistance to private madaris (Muslim schools) to encourage the adoption of the DepEd prescribed Madrasah curriculum. Boransing disclosed that a total of 36 private madaris with 3,834 Muslim pupils are the initial beneficiaries of the financial assistance of P5,000 per student per school year which started in school year 2008-2009. The funding was taken from the DepEd budget in 2008. In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), 26 madaris from Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Shariff Kabunsuan and Tawi-Tawi have qualified after a thorough and rigorous screening and validation, along with two schools in Davao City and eight in Cotabato City and General Santos City. Lapus said the financial assistance for each recipient Madrasah shall be for specific purpose wherein 80 percent will go to pay the salaries of teachers handling secular subjects and 20 percent will be for the improvement of classroom and other school facilities. This is the first time in the history of Philippine education that private madaris are mainstreamed as a component of National System of Basic Education following a single curriculum for basic education, common to both public schools and private Madaris. “We purposely designed the Madrasah Education to be able to respond to the needs and realities of our Muslim learners,” Boransing explained. There are two types of curriculum prescribed in Madrasah Education --the Enriched Curriculum for Public Elementary Schools and the Standard Curriculum for Private Madaris. The former has been implemented in all DepEd regions nationwide for Muslim students and is known as the Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education (ALIVE) Program. The Standard Curriculum for Private Madaris, approved in 2004, aims to put in place an educational system that is appropriate for the Muslim population. The Standard Curriculum combines basic secular subjects with religious subjects such as Qur’an, Aqeedah (Islamic creed) and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), and Seerah (biography of Mohammad) and Hadith (works of Mohammad). Through this curriculum, the Filipino national identity is promoted even as the Muslim’s cultural heritage is preserved. “With such a curriculum, the Philippines will have a Madrasah education system where students from private madaris can transfer to public schools and vice versa. It will likewise give them equal chance in employment opportunities.” Boransing said. Lapus likewise said that Madrasah education is a way in combating radicals. “Madrasah education is a long-term solution to bring peace to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). There cannot be long-term peace in the region if we fail to address education issues,” he stressed. The DepEd also implements an alternative learning and livelihood training program among Muslim out-of-school youth and adults. Lapus said that he approved recently a proposal that would give these Muslim out-of-school youth and adults a chance at education and livelihood through the DepEd’s Alternative Learning System-cum-Madrasah Program. He said the program is expected to contribute to the peace process as there can be a serious peace and order problem if no social development interventions are made available in predominantly Muslim urban areas. “We need to open wider latitude for learning and skills training among our Muslim brothers to give them a chance to improve their lives," he said. He added that "giving our Muslim youth a chance at education and livelihood training will significantly reduce the possibility of conflict." Studies showed that the highest rate of school dropouts are in Muslim areas. With massive migration in urban centers, Muslim migrants bring along their families, including out-of-school children. The program components include: basic literacy, accreditation and equivalency, technical and vocational skills training, entrepreneurship development, and microfinance. Arabic Language and Islamic Values (ALIVE) will be incorporated in every program component. The basic literacy, accreditation and equivalency as well as the Revised Basic Education Curriculum (RBEC) shall be administered by the DepEd's Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS). Lapus explained that the entrepreneurship development component includes sourcing of loan financing on microfinance of small- and medium-scale enterprises. DepEd is also currently sourcing out possible financial support from member-countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). According to Boransing, "the department's efforts at alternative learning are open to all learners as our education initiatives are geared towards achieving our Education for All goals." Earlier, Lapus cited the support being given by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in DepEd projects. With USAID support, the DepEd has “intensified government efforts to improve access to quality education and provide livelihood opportunities for children and the youth in the southern Philippines, particularly in areas most affected by conflict and poverty like the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” according to Lapus. “There is an urgent need for a stronger public-private sector alliance to meet the education needs of Mindanao, especially in the ARMM,” said Lapus, stressing “a framework to pool various initiatives into one program assures efficiency and effectiveness.” The Philippines will host the Special Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development on March 16 to 18, 2010, which will harness the great potential of interfaith dialogue in bringing lasting peace and sustainable development. President Arroyo espoused this during the opening ceremonies of the 15th NAM Summit at the Maritim Congress Center in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt in July last year where she invited member-countries of the NAM to actively participate in the conference that will mark the first time that the Non-Aligned Movement will harness the great potentials of interfaith dialogue and cooperation to advance circular concerns for durable, lasting peace and sustainable development. The meeting, which will be held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), will give representatives of the 118 NAM member-countries the opportunity to focus on the role interfaith dialogue and cooperation play in averting and ending conflicts that bring death and destruction around the world. The President has pointed out that issues such as the financial crisis, climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and other pressing global concerns can be effectively addressed through international solidarity and dialogue among peoples, civilizations and religions. The Philippines is the leading proponent on interfaith dialogue and promotes the same to bring peace and development in Mindanao. Philippine Consulate General 3600 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 500 Los Angeles, CA 90010 Tel. (213) 639-0980/Fax (213) 639-0990 Website - Passport - Visa - Dual Citizenship - Legal/Notarials -

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