Asalaamu Alaikum warakmatulahi taala wa barakatuh.
I welcome you all this morning with a message of solidarity and hope. On behalf of the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education, I thank you all for your presence in today’s event. Your participation is a testament to our historical kinship that all indigenous people in Mindanao share for centuries of struggle for the right to self-determination. And this kinship makes us hopeful and confident that we will overcome the challenges of this transition period from ARMM to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The development of our educational system is paramount for the success of BARMM. It features in the 12-point priority agenda of the BARMM Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim. Article IX, Section 16 of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), or Republic Act No. 11054, states that: “It shall be a top priority of the Bangsamoro Government to establish, maintain, and support a complete and integrated system of quality education…The Bangsamoro Government shall develop an educational framework relevant and responsive to the needs, ideals, and aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.”
In the Education Ministry, our rallying cry is "no child left behind." We endeavor to make education in the Bangsamoro accessible to all learners and will guarantee equal opportunity to all graduates in their chosen field.
We strive to improve the policies, programs, and activities that will enhance the performance of every child; from the school facilities to the teachers' competency. Moreover, we envision that the educational system in the Bangsamoro shall embody a quality standard with a broad, relevant, and inclusive curriculum.
We are working to address a myriad of problems affecting our educational system. High dropout rates of our learners, lack of access to education services especially in the remote areas of the Bangsamoro, including many IP communities, and poor teacher management processes, are just a few of the issues that we need to address.
With regard to the education for IPs in the Bangsamoro, the BOL reiterates the obligation of the BARMM as provided for in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) - to protect the rights of Moro and Non-Moro IPs, including the right to quality education.
The Education Ministry is committed to institutionalizing measures to protect and promote IPs' right to education. We will be conscious of the appropriate teaching and learning methods based on existing context as well as customary traditions of your communities. In this regard, we will work closely with the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs as well as your representatives.
The Ministry cannot achieve all these goals by ourselves. We need the stakeholders, those who have an interest to improve the education system in the Bangsamoro. And this includes you, my brothers and sisters representing the IP communities.
Part of what we need to do together is to draft a Bangsamoro Education Code. Generally, the Code shall govern the education system in the Bangsamoro and set the strategic direction for the implementation of a balanced, accessible, and high standard educational structure.
But more than that, we need to enact a Code that embodies our culture, provides equal opportunities to all, and ensures our graduates to be anchored on shared values as well as able to proudly compete in the national and global arena.
I understand from the Pathways team that this activity intends to draw out the needs and ideas of the IPs on how to reform the Bangsamoro education system. We have done many public consultations in the past. But I would like to assure you that this is not a token exercise. Consultations and similar modalities are a critical part of governance. Moreover, the Ministry shall set-up mechanisms that would enable you to be involved in the development of an overall strategic approach to education reform.
Policymaking bereft of proper context, cooperation from the public, and relevant information from the ground can result in policies and programming that do not reflect the priorities of our constituents. For instance, the establishment of a Bangsamoro Tribal University System in the BARMM, must be based on the higher education needs of the IPs as they themselves identify those needs.
We remain optimistic despite the challenges we are facing. A famous saying goes, "Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may be falling into place." More importantly, we at the Education Ministry will strive to fully engage our IP brothers and sisters as well as other stakeholders in the Bangsamoro. We will be grateful for any support in our efforts to improve our educational system. By working together, we shall be able to focus our energies on weaving our beliefs, ideas, and rights and form a tapestry of peace, unity, and progress in the Bangsamoro.
Again, I want to thank all of you who took the time to participate in today's activity. We look forward to working with you and explore possible options moving forward. I also want to extend gratitude to our partners, the Australian Government and the Education Pathways to Peace in Mindanao Program, for supporting us in our efforts to improve the education sector.
Maraming Salamat po! Asalaamu Alaikum warakmatulahi taala wa barakatuh.