By Ali G. Macabalang
Over 4,200 eligible graduates are vying for only 400 teacher item-slots for Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao provinces alone in what was described as tedious process posing as “one of challenges” facing the infant Bangsamoro autonomous government’s stride to institute administrative and organizational reforms to produce quality education.
In Lanao del Sur, over 2,200 applicants are being screened for appointment in 200 available teacher item-position, some 2,000 counterparts from Maguindanao compete for 200 item-positions, Minister of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) Mohagher Iqbal told the Philippine Muslim Today new last week.
Maguindanao and Lanao del Sue are the two biggest component provinces in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), with two schools divisions each. The three other component provinces – Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi have single schools division each with a relatively smaller number of teacher-items being allotted.
Minister Iqbal hinted that his ministry faces greater pressures from the two big provinces because of the wide gap in ratio of applicants, all passers of licensure exam for teachers (LET), and the very few item-position available.
Other sources in the MBHTE said the disparity in number of LET passers and available teacher-items had been a big problem also in the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The wide disparity-caused stiff trend of recruitment had provided “room for the so-called positions for sale” allegedly involving cash ranging from P1,500 to P200,00 each.
“That (position for sale) will never happen under our watch. The screening and recruitment will be done religiously,” said Iqbal, who admitted that one of his relatives was a victim of failure to get appointed because of lack of money to pay off.
Another issue that beset the MBHTE is the case of several “provisional” teachers accommodated by the past ARMM administration, notably the defunct regional Department of Education (DepEd), Iqbal said.
Invoking the rule of law that “provisional” teachers will be laid off when there are eligible mentors, he said, his officer terminated the services of temporary teachers in his early months in office.
As a consequence, some of the laid-off temporary teachers filed two administrative cases against him, but the court has already dismissed one of the suits for lack of merit, Minister Iqbal said.
“But because we have to take into the humanitarian consideration of the plight of those poor temporary teachers or with children, we hired them on a case-to-cases basis with a monthly pay of P15,000,” he said.
Baffling school building construction
Minister Iqbal said his ministry has equally been concerned about the failure of the national government to provide funds for the construction of school buildings in the defunct ARMM for four years – 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020.
In 2018, he said, the DepEd-Manila allotted the ARMM 199 school buildings with the construction works supposedly commenced in 2019. Sources from the MBHTE’s project management office said each building was worth P5-million.
But Iqbal revealed that out of 44 buildings units allotted for Tawi-Tawi, only 26 have been completed; 10 of 20 in Sulu were turned over; two of 23 in Basilan attained completion; three of 56 in Lanao del Sur reached turnover; and two of 56 in Maguindanao went through inauguration.
“One of the two completed school buildings in Maguindanao is located in my own village of Barangay Bugawas, Datu Odin Sinsuat town,” Iqbal said, hinting at his own personal pressure at a factor in the project completion.
He said those uncompleted or still to be constructed units involved disputes among land donors and town officials.
The fund for the continued construction of such units will have to be made only with a guarantee for continuous and smooth process, he said. AGM