To continue and finish their studies to pursue their dreams is the common hope of the 1,889 completers of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) - a component of the Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction and Development Project Phase II- which aim is to aim is to improve access of targeted communities in the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao to basic socio-economic infrastructure. This is by engaging the communities through a community-driven development with an end in view of making those productive, participative and peaceful communities.
Through the ALS, children and families of the combatants and those who were living in camp communities were selected to avail the program that opened doors of opportunity for them to have access to basic, elementary and secondary education.
Many of them learned the ABCs, were able to write their names, read few words and were able to recognize, and count numbers useful for daily living and selling local products.
After months of conducting the ALS classes in various camp communities, all those 1,889 learners have completed the program and completion programs that marked the formal closing of their special education were successively conducted in every community. This completion ceremonies happened from February 24 to 28, 2019 respectively.
This special education program was in accordance with the Department of Education- where the latter ALS coordinators were involved respectively for each district and division where the specific project site is located.
“We commend the ALS implementation for this project. The instructional managers are well-trained and the facilitation of the accreditation and equivalency test are well-organized”, Datumama Kabagani,ALS coordinator of DepEd Maguindanao II Division stated.
Meanwhile, instructional managers were hired for the ALS implementation. They were teachers who facilitated the classes for each of the camp community. These IM’s have underwent trainings with the DepED as main resource persons to ensure their knowledge and capacity to handle ALS classes. The program also provided modules that guided the IMs in teaching the lessons to the learners.
Learners of the ALS also received free school materials from the program. There were learning kits provided that comprised of pencil, ballpen, paper, notebooks, crayons, and among others. They also availed free meals during ALS classes.
The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) as Project Implementing Unit (PIU) and the Community and Family Services International (CFSI) as the Project Management Unit (PMU) worked together for this endeavor as partners for the MTFRDP/2 implementation.
“We know for a fact that there are many Bangsamoro who were not able to go to school or finish their studies due to conflict. With the BARMM, our learners and now completers have the common wish and that is to continue support them finish their studies to pursue their dreams”, Hashim Manticayan, BDA-MTFRDP/2 learning and development officer said.
“From the start, we always believe that education is power. We are happy that this “fight against illiteracy” is successful”, he added.
MTFRDP/2 is a program partnership signed between the BDA and the Community and Family Services International (CFSI) that is in line with the Normalization Aspect of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
MTFRDP/2 is supported by the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) with various donors such as the European Union, the government of Sweden, Australia, Canada, United States, New Zealand and the World Bank, which also serves as Trust Fund Administrator and Secretariat.
The Spanish Cooperation Agency for International Development (AECID) is also supporting the project.
Education in Bangsamoro
As per the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP) of 2014, one in every five adults has no schooling at all and that seven out of ten student cannot graduate in high school. This accordingly is due to complex factors such as the displacement of people because of conflict, ill health, lack of economic opportunities that justify literacy and formal education, poor delivery of education services, and cultural factors, particularly the low priority given to achievements of women and girls.
Even before the establishment of the BARMM, Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim earlier told that education along with medical services, social services, and infrastructure will be the top priorities of the future interim Bangsamoro government.
"We have initially identified 4 priorities. One is on the field of education. We see that this is one of the fields where we need to focus immediately because for more than 40, 50 years of war, many of our people have not been educated," he said.