ARMM, SOCCSKSARGEN Brigada 2017 create hope, possibilities for communities

May 17, 2017

PASIG CITY, May 17, 2017 – In keeping with the true spirit of bayanihan and increasing the participation of communities in providing quality education for Filipino learners, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Region 12 (SOCCSKSARGEN) conducted their respective Brigada Eskwela 2017 kick-off ceremonies in schools that require much attention and assistance.
Parents, barangay and local government officials, and other members of the community trooped to Broce Elementary School of Peace and Kurintem Elementary School in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, and to T'Boli Sbu Senior High School in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato to volunteer their time and resources in making schools clean and safe for their children.
Department of Education (DepEd) Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Service (PAS) and Alternative Learning System (ALS) G.H. Ambat graced the ceremonies and called on communities to lay their stakes on improving the quality of education.
"Ang edukasyon ay responsibilidad hindi lamang ng gobyerno kundi ng buong pamayanan. Kapag tumaya kayo sa edukasyon, mananalo ang pamilya niyo, mananalo ang pamayanan," Ambat pointed out.
DepEd ARMM Assistant Secretary for Academics Marjunni Maddi , Assistant Secretary for Special Projects and Programs Alfhadar Pajiji, and ARMM-Maguindanao Schools Division Superintendent (SDS) Bai Alibai Aliuden, Al-Hadja welcomed Ambat by sharing good practices in making basic education more inclusive.
"Malaking karangalan para po sa amin dito sa field  na makita mismo ninyo ano ba ang tunay na nangyayari, kung paano kami nagiging bahagi ng magkaroon ng magandang edukasyon. . . Sana po ang magandang balita ay maibahagi sa Central Office na dito sa isang bahagi ng Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, lalo na dito sa Maguindanao na sikat na sikat na probinsya, ay masabi po nila na may magandang nangyayari dito," Aliuden remarked.
One significant approach is the use of Mother-Tongue based (MTB) resource books in teaching Mathematics to Grades 1 and 2 students in ARMM elementary schools. Currently, only four local are considered: Maguindanaoan, Tausug, Maranao, and Yakan of Basilan, but efforts are underway to include the Sama language of Tawi-Tawi and to develop the Iranon language as medium of instruction.
"We started three years ago and ngayon pa lang nag-reproduce ng ganito karaming materials. Yan po request ng mga teachers sa ARMM," ALS Regional Director Ustadz Nur Pulong shared. They hope to measure the success of this intervention and of the enthusiasm shown by learners toward Mother-Tongue based learning in the National Achievement Test (NAT).
ARMM's Brigada showcased the communities' willingness to cooperate for education despite the hurdles in facilities and resources, and to make education the centerpiece of their pursuit for just and lasting peace.
Resources and pledges of assistance came to T'Boli Sbu Senior High School (TSSHS) as all nine Schools Divisions of Region 12 agreed to conduct its regional Brigada Eskwela kick-off ceremony at the first SHS for indigenous peoples.
Established in May 2015, TSSHS aims to produce globally competent and functionally literate learners, and to promote and preserve the T'Boli cultural identity and ensure the implementation of culture-based education. Starting with 55 students and four teachers, TSSHS has produced 40 graduates for its first batch. With its current figures of 24 Grade 11 students and an estimated 15 incoming Grade 10 students based on the Early Registration data, TSSHS is facing a dwindling number of the T'Boli youth who pursue learning rooted in their heritage.
The decline is attributed to the lack of facilities as the school currently has only two makeshift classrooms sitting on vast land, lacking a solid floor to account for the stability of their steps and dreams, and awaiting more infrastructure that can support ecotourism and livelihood management education for the benefit of the community. With more youth leaning toward careers that navigate from the indigenous tradition, TSSHS can do so much with strengthened partnerships, cooperation of the entire region, and deeper understanding of their culture both by members and non-members of the ethnic group.
As a response to the pressing concern, the community, its elders, the local government unit, the regional DepEd, and private organization partners came together to turn over material assistance, such as hollow blocks, cement, paint, construction tools, and seedlings, to jumpstart the improvement of TSSHS.  Two new school buildings from a private foundation and six more classrooms from DepEd are slated to contribute to the development of the school for T'Boli learners.
Region 12's Brigada maintained to be a celebration, but instead of accomplishments, it rejoiced the relentless spirit of unity and cooperation that traverses distance and differences. It celebrated the reality that when responsibilities are shared, the possibilities for learners are endless.