“We hope to bring quality education to BARMM,” says Minister Iqbal
MANILA – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) hopes to realize its goals of bringing quality education to the region but may take some time.
This was how Minister for Basic, Higher and Technical Education Mohagher Mohammad Iqbal summed up his task under the new set-up in the impoverished region in restive Southern Philippines.
“We have a clear direction,” Minister Iqbal told the media in a virtual press conference hosted by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Friday afternoon.
He explained there were just two divisions in the Education sector under the ARMM, the basic and madrasa, which are both classified as basic education.
He said one of the biggest problems in the region is the lack of teachers and they have hired some 1,600 teachers for Maguindanao, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan. They would hire teachers for Sulu and Lanao del Sur.
“We have extended 1,400 scholarships for higher education and they have received their grants,” he added. He underscored there are also programs for technical and vocational education. The madrasa set up will be part of their program at the BARMM.
Minister Iqbal added they not only inherited from the ARMM the budget already programmed for specific projects but problems as well, particularly in his ministry.
Part of the problem they inherited was the plight of 1,000 provisional teachers who have been in the ARMM’s employ for the past 34 years as the previous officials failed to implement the law.
“There can only be provisional teachers if there are no licensure examination passers. We will definitely hire licensed teachers, but the problem is if they are willing to be assigned to far-flung areas,” he said.
He said they have received reports of the existence of “ghost” schools in some areas of the region although he added they are still validating the information.
Minister Iqbal said their high school graduates could only be comparable with Grade VI pupils in Metro Manila.
“We are moving heaven and earth to ensure quality education for our youth,” Minister Iqbal concluded. (Melo M. Acuña)
BARMM Minister of Basic, Higher and Technical Education Mohagher Mohammad Iqbal. (Screen grab from PCOO Virtual Presser/Melo M. Acuna)