COTABATO CITY -- With mentors hopeful of hurdling perennial challenges such as shortages in rooms and other facilities, all went well with Monday’s start of classes in five southern Muslim provinces.
Dr. John Magno, education secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said not a single untoward incident happened in any of the schools in Mguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces on Monday, the first day of classes for school year 2015-2016.
Magno said the executive department of the autonomous region --- under the Office of the Regional Governor (ORG) --- has been trying to address since 2012 the lack of classrooms in far-flung areas via engineering interventions using funds from the Department of Education and infrastructure allocations from the regional budget.
Teachers on Monday said the problems besetting their schools were merely inherited by ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, passed on by previous administrations that embezzled DepEd funds and made the agency a “milking cow” through thousands of ghost teachers.
The names of the non-existent teachers were listed in payrolls, with corresponding salaries divided by scheming education officials, whose appointments were co-terminus with their principal regional governors.
“The DepEd-ARMM was so mismanaged during the time of past governors,” a principal in the first district of Maguindanao, who asked not to be identified for security reasons, told reporters during Monday’s tour of Magno in selected schools in the province.
Magno said Hataman had issued a directive for teachers to intensify the peace education thrusts of ARMM schools in support of the Mindanao peace process.
Magno said the regional government recognizes the importance of imparting peace education to children as a means of promoting co-existence among ARMM’s culturally-pluralistic Moro, Christian and non-Muslim indigenous sectors.
“In the meantime, we are thanking the police, the military, the barangay leaders and local government units for helping facilitate the June 1 resumption of classes in the ARMM,” Magno said.
The DepEd-ARMM hired more than 2,000 duly licensed teachers, through a stringent selection process, from middle of 2014 until first quarter of this year to professionalize the department’s rank-and-file personnel structure.
The move was partly meant to fill the void caused by Hataman’s delisting of thousands of ghost teachers from old DepEd-ARMM payrolls.