Thursday, May 3, 2012

Philstar: Ghost students, ghost teachers, ghost schools haunt ARMM

By Jaime Laude

MANILA, Philippines - Who’s afraid of ghosts?

Not Jamar Kulayan, the newly-appointed regional secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd) in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARRM), who declared that he intends to rid all “ghosts” within his department – ghost students, ghost teachers and ghost schools.

Now on a ghost-bashing binge, Kulayan, a Tausog, said he uncovered these irregularities right after his appointment as ARRM DepEd secretary in January this year.

“When I got appointed as ARRM DepED Secretary, I was under instructions to institute reforms in the region’s educational system and was really surprised to find out the existence of ghost students, ghost teachers and ghost schools,” Kulayan told The Philippine Star.

He said previous ARRM education officials, for reasons only known to them, appeared to have turned a blind eye on these illegal practices – the listing and submission of lists of ghost student-enrollees, employment of ghost teachers, and wrong reporting of the total number of active schools.

Aside from ghost students, ghost teachers and non-existing public elementary and high schools, ARRM also used to be known as a haven of “ghost voters.”

Based from his initial discovery, Kulayan said that it has become the practice in the region for teachers to bloat the name of their student-enrollees every school registration.

This, he said, is part of the scheme to justify the creation of ghost schools and the hiring of ghost teachers.

Kulayan said during graduation, those involved in these illegal education scheme, simply hire children like Badjaos to march in front of higher DepEd officials to make it appear that a particular school is truly in operation and also to cover their illegal acts.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman acknowledges these irregularities in the region, saying the databank system established by the previous administration showed that there are discrepancies in the number of teachers, schools, and students in the region.

In Lanao Del Sur, ghost schools exists as reflected by the excessive number of national secondary schools which are not reflective to the total number of students in the province.

Records from ARMM DepEd showed that there are 144 schools operating in the province or 14 schools higher than the official number of 130 schools (Lanao del Sur) as reflected in DepEd’s records in Manila.

The presence of two elementary schools with the same name, La Mesuna Laud East and West in Siasi, Sulu, also showed that elementary schools are not exempted from the fraud.

Siasi is an island municipality with only a few number of elementary student enrollees, mostly Badjaos.

Mujiv’s island province of Basilan is also not exempted from these irregularities.

Abandoned public elementary schools are no longer in operation because of the conflict, are also being reported as “active” complete with students and teachers.

Also in one of his inspection trips, Kulayan said he saw a tarpaulin prominently placed along the national highway declaring an ongoing first anniversary celebration of a certain school.

When he checked the place, Kulayan said he was disappointed when he saw nothing but dust-covered tables and chairs. When he tried to verify, he was told that everybody – teachers and students — had already gone home.

The ARMM education chief said present records showed there are 22,000 teachers in the region, 2,000 in excess of the 20,000 who were officially hired. Names of teachers who are already dead, retired, or abroad were still listed and continue drawing their salaries.

To continuously address these anomalies, Hataman created a Task Force on the Moratorium of Abolition and Creation of Schools with the primary objective of eradicating ghost schools, ghost students and ghost teachers, a scheme that have defrauded the government of billions of pesos. – with Aecaya Calero (Philippine Star trainee)

"Moral Governance"

English - "Good governance for a progressive and peaceful BARMM."

Sinama - "Hap pamarinta tudju BARMM na sambu maka salamat"

Bahasa Sug - "Dan mabuntul tudju pa BARMM masambu iban mahatul"

Meranaw - "Mathitu a kandatu sa BARMM ko katagompiya go kalilintad"


"Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE)"