Today, we open the doors of our schools and learning spaces to 27.7 million learners wherever they are, whoever they and their parents are, and whatever the political and religious beliefs of their families are. Every effort will be made to accommodate all of them.
We have spent an entire year catching up with classroom shortages, lack of textbooks, seats, laboratories, and teachers. We have had two nationwide exercises which mobilized and energized the entire country to prepare for the return of learners already in school or who have dropped out, as well as those going to school for the first time. One is the "Brigada Eskwela" and the other is "Oplan Balik Eskwela." Both were generously supported by entire communities, parents, religious organizations, civic associations, and the families of teachers.
We know, however, that we live in challenging times. School openings have always been beset by problems. These usual difficulties are now exacerbated by political challenges and threats to national security.
Nonetheless, we are opening classes according to the announced schedule, which is today. For obvious reasons, Marawi City and eight districts of Lanao del Sur will be delayed by two weeks. Schedules of classes will be adjusted so these will start early and dismiss early. The usual documents which are required will be dispensed with in the case of children from displaced families. We are also making adjustments for schools which will have increased enrollments and those which will have lesser students.
We would like to remind all who are actively involved in the armed conflict that our schools are zones of peace where learning and teaching will continue as scheduled, whether in times of peace or periods of uncertainty.
Once again, we welcome each and everyone of you to School Year 2017-2018!