By Ali G. Macabalang
The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has finally acquired its own Education Code expected to squarely address unique traits of constituents professing full government support for madaris (Islamic and Arabic schools) and indigenous people’s (IP) learning systems.
BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim promptly signed Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Bill No. 70 into law on the same night the interim regional parliament passed it on May 18.
Ebrahim and BTA Parliament Speaker Pangalian Balindong showcased copies of the enacted code in a pose before spectators and some media workers covering the long-awaited legislation finale.
The measure titled – “An Act providing for the establishment, maintenance, and support of a complete and integrated system of quality education in the Bangsamoro” – is one of basic codes or laws required under R.A. 11054 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) during the transition of the new autonomous governance.
R.A. 11054, also known as Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), was enacted in July 2018 as a legal translation of the CAB, which Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forged in 2014. The BOL and CAB prescribe for the BARMM governance to have its own codes on education, civil service, administrative system, revenue, local government
Education Minister MP Mohagher Iqbal and BTA Deputy Minority Floor Leader MP Atty. Rasol Mitmug, chair and vice-chairperson of BTA’s committee on education, defended the bill during interpellation and amendments times.
Iqbal filed the bill in October last year, saying the legislation is “an embodiment of our aspiration of Bangsamoro children to have a bright future which is an upshot of a quality education.”
He said the Bangsamoro education code is not “perfect”, but it includes significant provisions that will enhance the region’s education system, and will protect the well-being and rights of the teachers and non-teaching staff, parents, and learners.
The Code mandates the Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education (MBHTE), which Iqbal presently heads, to formulate plans, implement, and coordinate all efforts required in upgrading programs and projects on formal and non-formal education at all levels in the region, and supervise all educational institutions therein.
Special eligibility for Madrasah teachers
Under the BEC, the MBHTE, in coordination with the Civil Service Commission for BARMM, shall develop and administer special qualifying exams for permanent appointment of Madrasah teachers or those who teach Islamic studies and Arabic literacy in schools. This is to provide them with the security of tenure.
Tribal University System for IPs
Section 145 of the BEC provides that, in accordance with the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the MBHTE shall initiate the creation of a tribal university system to address the higher educational needs of indigenous peoples (IP).
The tribal university system will provide a school system where the IPs’ language, culture, and traditional knowledge of their elders are incorporated in the curricular and extracurricular activities of the students, Minister Iqbal said.
The Code also prescribes for the establishment of a tribal university founded upon Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP). The university shall endeavor to inspire young IPs to learn and become key payers in bringing their ancestral domains and indigenous communities to greater heights, he said.
Peace education shall be a core component of the Bangsamoro education system and integrated into the curriculum of all educational levels.
The MBHTE shall adopt a peace education curriculum designed to instill the culture of non-violence, social justice and respect for human rights, freedom, and inclusivity.
“Education is vital not only because it is a priority of the Bangsamoro Government’s development plans, but it is the bedrock on which we build on the hope and future of the next generations,” said Minister Iqbal.
“Through quality, inclusive, and balanced education, we hope our learners will thrive in their selected professional endeavors and effectively contribute to the well-being of their families, communities, and the Bangsamoro region,” he added.
The Education Code is the third basic law enacted so far by the BTA legislature as required in its transition period. The two other basic edicts earlier enacted were the Bangsamoro Administrative Code and Civil Service Code. The parliament has yet to pass the codes on taxation, local government, and regional electoral system, among others. (AGM)