By Ali G. Macabalang
The Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) has called for cohesive efforts in the campaign in containing the spread of Coronavirus pandemic in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to ensure efficacious measures in saving the constituents from COVID-19 adversities.
MBHTE Minister Mohagher Iqbal aired the call in the webinar sponsored jointly by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the BARMM government on Wednesday to tackle the impact of COVID-19 on education of Bangsamoro Children.
UNICEF Field Office Chief Andrew Morris and Minister Iqbal delivered messages on their respective perceptions and efforts geared towards abating the effects of the Coronavirus on the children’s education in BARMM, which lies in the bottom of national list on literacy and poverty rates.
MBHTE has the biggest budget among BARMM ministries in 2020 and this year proportionate to its largest number of direct clientele, including some 30,000 teachers and non-teaching workers, an average of 1.3 million students and estimated 2.6 million parents.
Iqbal said his ministry has been facing a lot of challenges in reconstituting the education workforce and organization structure following the phase-out of old setups in the abolished Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Such challenges may have direct bearing on the quality of the MBHTE’s stride in preventing a spread of COVID-19, he hinted.
As far as the MBHTE is concerned, Iqbal said, they “have been trying to do the best (measures)” in promoting proper awareness on the ways and means of avoiding exposure to the Coronavirus disease among the education sector of the infant autonomous region.
He admitted that like other parts of the world, the BARMM campaign may have some gray areas that ought to be brought to fore for concerned parties to remedy through a cohesive approach.
Iqbal pointed out the need for cohesion among BARMM ministries and offices in the campaign against COVID-19 when he was informed that amid the pandemic, some BARMM officials involved in recruiting United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) in the countryside allegedly appeared lax about proper observance of prescribed protocols in village assemblies, notably in Lanao del Sur.
UBJP is the official political party of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), whose key leaders and members steer the wheels of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the ruling body of BARMM. It is a party expected to field candidates in future elections either alone or in alliance with other local parties.
Lanao del Sur-based UBJP leaders have posted in social media some photos showing their conducts of assemblies in Marogong, Ditsaa-Ramain and Masiu towns so far. Most of the photos focused on oath-taking of village leaders in the three municipalities.
Some concerned residents in Lanao del Sur sent via messenger to the Philippine Muslim Today (PMT) news three photos showing a horde of hundreds of villagers in Masiu standing and seated closely, with some not wearing face masks or face shields.
The PMT passed on the photos to Health OIC-Minister Ameril Usman and Regional Inter-Agency Task Force cum Cabinet Minister Mhd Asnin Pendatun for them to make an public advisory for prevention of a repeat of the Masiu improper participants’ arrangement. More than a week elapsed but no advisory was made.
When informed of the issue at Wednesday’s webinar, Iqbal assured that he would bring the matter to the BARMM leadership for it to come up with an advisory.
Citing field information, the PMT informed Iqbal that those gathered in the UBJP assemblies naturally have student-children and that in an unlikely affliction of Coronavirus disease will bring undue risk to their household members, thus wasting resources, energy and time spent in COVI-19 regional prevention campaign. AGM