Wednesday, March 31, 2010

ARMM to receive fresh Aussie education support

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 31, 2010) – Canberra is planning to provide a long-term support to the improvement of the quality and access to education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim in Mindanao through another round of assistance that builds on the successes of the eight-year Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao Project, Filipino officials said Wednesday.

Officials said the new Australian government program would be a 5 to 10 year support to basic education exclusively implemented in the ARMM, which is composed of the provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Taw-, Basilan, Lanao and Maguindanao, including Marawi City.

Efforts are now being undertaken to draw up the new project through a 12-month implementation support to BEAM-ARMM design with the involvement of several stakeholders. The new phase will include the implementation of a peace education framework specifically tailored to suit the needs of children in the region.

School and regional officials of the Department of Education in the ARMM have recently participated in a two-day workshop forum on peace education sponsored by the Australian Agency for International Development to help craft the said framework.

A handout given during the forum describes peace education as education that is geared toward a culture of peace, which the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization defines as “a growing body of shared values, attitudes, behaviors and ways of life based on: nonviolence, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms; understanding, tolerance and solidarity; sharing and free flow of communication; and full participation and empowerment of women.”

ARMM Education Secretary Hamid Aminodin Barra said peace education framework in the Muslim autonomous region should have Islamic teachings as its foundation.

Barra, who provided an input on Islamic framework on peace and respect for human dignity in the forum, averred that the Islamic context must always be considered in any project that will be undertaken in the ARMM.

He also allayed apprehensions that this could contribute to extremism as “Islam is a religion of moderation.”

The AusAID-BEAM project, which officially ended in November last year, helped improved the learning of school children in the field of English, Science and Mathematics, and increased accessed of those living in remote and depressed communities to education with its wide-ranging and innovative schemes.

ARMM, however, continues to lag behind other regions in terms of literacy and needs more help to change this trend.

The new AusAID support will focus on the particular education needs of ARMM with its unique culture and diverse populace taken into consideration. (Becky de Asis contributed to this report)

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