[NEWS] Islamic values, Arabic now taught in public schools in Mindanao
(I see a lot of avenues for dialogue in this development. I got the news hint first from the press conferen ce organized by BEAM last week. I went to DepEd for more clarifications. This reminded me so much of Dali, a Maranao and Abdul Jasser, a Tausug classmate in elementary who went to a madrasah in Malaybalay. Dali was having great difficulty in English but was good in Math. Abdul was the Huck Finn type, who goes in and out of the class room and is culprit of many pranks reserved by the girls in the classroom. Dali, reserved and more composed, was a seatmate and was a good friend. Both were friends of mine back then because we lived in the same area near the public market.
After 1990 I did not see him or Abdul anymore. I went to a state college high school in Malaybalay where I could not remember any Muslim student was enrolled. But I met Dali again in 2003, thirteen years later; he tended a shop in Valencia City selling ready to wear goods as well as a SIM-card outlet. His wife told me they owned the shop. But there was Dali, still reserved although I could see in his face the sincerity and enthusiasm of meeting once again a friend way back then.
His retail business did not surprise me. I know he was like that long before and I’m sure as a Maranao, he would live up to his business acumen. Dali told me later he did not finish high school. He said he regretted it but there was nothing he could do now to turn back time. Abdul Jasser has since returned to Marawi, Dali said, and never heard of him since 1992. Abdul did not finish elementary education.
I looked back to those two friends when I was younger in writing this story. Along the way, I realized that it wasn’t easy to be a Muslim student who has to go to two schools, a madrasah and a public school.
Right now I still look back to wonderful childhood days in the public market, where in the 1990s there was still a very high wall that divides the majority settler populace from the minority of Maranao’s and Tausugs.
When I vacationed in Malaybalay in 1996 (I went to university in Iloilo) , I saw a better looking mosque in the public market very near stores owned by Christian traders. In the mosque’s minaret I am always reminded of my young Moro friends. I hope with the teaching of ALIVE, more bridges of dialogue are built.)
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/3 Aug) — Islamic values and Arabic language
Education are now in the mainstream of Philippine education.
The two subjects are now taught in public schools that each have at
least 30 Muslim enrollees around Mindanao and in some parts of the country as
mandated by the Department of Education’s Order No. 51.
According to the Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM), which
partnered with DepEd in three Mindanao regions to implement a Muslim
education roadmap, there is a plan to institutionalize madrasah education,
contextualize aspects of DepEd’s Revised Basic Education Curriculum (RBEC), provide
alternative learning system for Muslim out-of-school youth, to create a
special fund for the madaris (Islamic schools, plural for madrasah),
Islamic values and Arabic, taught only in the madaris before, is now
offered as the Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education (or ALIVE
curriculum) in public schools, said Noor Saada, BEAM Muslim education coordinator.
Classes started in school year 2005-2006 in pilot schools in select
areas, according to Wallina Tambuang Motiva, DepEd Muslim education and
madaris coordinator in Southeastern Mindanao.
BEAM announced that ALIVE is now taught in at least 1,010 classes in
Southeastern Mindanao, Southwestern Mindanao and the Autonomous Region
in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Saada could not provide figures for other parts of Mindanao and the
Philippines, but said the classes are now held nationwide in public
schools that have at least 30 Muslim pupils.
ALIVE, part of an integration of the Islamic values and Arabic language
in the basic education curriculum for Muslim students studying in public
schools in the country, is among the key actions provided in DepEd’s Muslim
DepEd Order No. 51 series of 2004 provided for a “Standard or unified
Madrasah Curriculum” for private madaris seeking government recognition. It also
provided for the ALIVE curriculum in public schools, which was
developed by a group of Ulama representing Muslim communities, Saada said.
In the ALIVE curriculum, Saada said, Muslim students in public schools
still take RBEC subjects such as English, Math, Science, Filipino, and
Makabayan. In addition, he said, they will also take four Islamic studies subjects:
the Qur’an; Seerah (Life story of the Prophet) and Hadith (Sayings of the
Prophet); Aqueeda (Conduct) and Fiqh (Jurisprudence) and Arabic.
Saada clarified that the extent of the subjects covered varies from one
grade level to another. He said Islamic studies focus on values education for
the Muslim children. Non-Muslim students could take the ALIVE curriculum as
an elective, but only with their parents’ consent.
This development will reportedly help Muslim children studying in
public schools because they do not have to go to school seven days a week. He
said at present, Muslim students attend Monday to Friday classes in public
schools and Saturday to Sunday classes in madaris.
An ustadz (or a Muslim mentor), who shall become a regular teacher of
the public schools, will handle the Islamic and Arabic subjects.
Around 1,000 asatidz (plural of ustadz), Saada said, are expected to
finish the accelerated teacher education program in six Mindanao universities
in 2008 so DepEd could hire them as regular teachers.
The non-Muslim teachers will handle the RBEC subjects but asatidz could
also be tapped. The asatidz attended a 23-day Language Enhancement Program
before teaching. The program serves as their orientation to the Philippine
Muslim education in public schools has gained headway in Southeastern
Mindanao, Motiva said. From 36 public schools that offered ALIVE in
2005, the number has now almost doubled at 70. She said with 210 asatidz, they
have an enrolment of approximately 15,000 in Davao City, Davao Oriental, Davao
del Norte, Tagum City, Compostela Valley, Panabo City, Samal Island, Digos
City, and Davao del Sur.
Saada said the integration of the subjects in the RBEC curriculum
promises to help build “bridges of dialogue” between Muslims and non-Muslim
But among the big concerns facing the teaching of Islamic and Arabic in
public schools is budget for salaries of the asatidz. Saada said local
government school boards shoulder salary expenses.
“Not much in big local government units, but the problem is in smaller
LGUs that do not have funds for an ustadz. Hopefully, DepEd could release
funds for salaries starting school year 2007-2006,” Motiva said
Government recognition of private madrasah is also another strategy to
increase the access of Muslim students to education in Mindanao, Saada
He said work is ongoing for the standardization of a madrasah
curriculum and in processing recognition of private madaris that could operate like
the private schools in the country. Together with this, Saada said, are the
contextualization and indigenization of instructional materials.
The roadmap, Saada said, is based on the Philippines Medium Term
Development Plan, the 1996 GRP-Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) peace
agreement, Republic Act 9054 or the Expanded ARMM Organic Act, and the salient
advocacies of the GRP — Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace process.
(Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)