In his visit to Jolo, Education Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC said he is confident that the creativity of Muslim Mindanao will create the next biggest educational reform in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“The most colorful Filipinos are Muslims. There are so many colors seen in a Muslim gathering. They wear colors from head to toe... People who love colors are the most creative people,” Luistro said during the K to 12 Summit held in Jolo, Sulu.
Luistro added that the most creative solutions will come from the Filipinos in ARMM. He said that, “If we walk together, we will be able to outshine the other provinces... the next biggest reform in education will come from here.”
The K to 12 Summit was held last January 20 at the Notre Dame of Jolo College. There were over 300 education stakeholders—students from public and private schools, parents, teachers, and superintendents—who attended the event and pledged their support for the full implementation of the K to 12 Basic Education Program.
“My trip here is actually a vote for Mindanao. Dahil sa palagay ko po, hindi uusad ang Pilipinas kung hindi tayo sabay-sabay. Kailangan kasabay natin ang Mindanao,” Luistro said.
Luistro even asked not to call him “Secretary” because “it does not mean anything. Call me ‘Brother’ because I came here as your brother.”
‘No one gets left behind’
During the said summit, Luistro discussed several prevalent issues in the education sector of ARMM—chief among them was the disparity between the number of children who enroll and complete schooling in elementary and secondary education.
According to Luistro, out of 636,000 enrollees in 2014, about 35.28% or 224,000 completed their elementary education. In the same year, around 72,476 students or almost half of the 148,000 enrollees completed their secondary education.
“This is our mission: the enrollment and completion rate in Sulu must be at the same level. This is because our overall target is that no Filipino learner must be left behind. That is what we must all achieve together,” Luistro said.
Luistro added that education is not only done through formal schooling, emphasizing that Department of Education (DepEd) has other programs that provide alternative options to existing formal instruction, such as the Alternative Learning System (ALS).
Managed by ALS learning facilitators, the ALS education is delivered outside the classroom, usually conducted at community learning centers, barangay multi-purpose hall, libraries, or at home.
“We have students whom we should reach out to. We need to strengthen our ALS program and provide more mobile teachers. We will make sure that they are part of our program,” Luisto said.
Luistro further cited the number of participants for the Senior High School (SHS) Early Registration in ARMM.
“There are 19,658 Grade 10 completers who participated in the SHS Early Registration in ARMM, out of the 28,915 students who enrolled in 2015. Look for that Grade 10 student who has not enrolled yet in SHS,” he said.
He added that the government will aid Grade 10 completers who will pursue SHS in a non-DepEd public or private school through the SHS Voucher Program.
Starting School Year 2016-2017, the SHS Voucher Program seeks to subsidize a partial amount of public and private Grade 10 completers’ tuition fees in a non-DepEd public and private schools licensed to offer SHS Program. These include private schools, State Universities and Colleges/Local Universities and Colleges, and Technical and Vocation Schools.
The said event was likewise attended by DepEd ARMM Assistant Secretary for Special Projects Alfhadar Pajiji, Notre Dame of Jolo College President Fr. Romeo Saniel, OMI, and Atty. Joseph Noel Estrada who represented Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines.
“We are one with the government in ensuring the success of this educational reform (K to 12 Program). I challenge everyone to dream of change and lasting peace in Jolo through the education of our children,” Estrada said during the summit.
For his part, Samiel said that, “Wai kita niyu piyasaran sin parinta natuh (Hindi tayo pinapabayaan ng ating gobyerno).”
Pajiji noted that without the full support of DepEd Central Office, DepEd ARMM would have a hard time employing educational reforms in the region.
“Patuloy po tayo sa pagsuporta sa mga programa ng National (DepEd Central Office) at hindi po tayo napapabayaan,” Pajiji ended.