Militarization of education in Mindanao

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - News -

Dear Editor,

Militarization of education in Mindanao You can see how messed up and at risk our education is when the military is bending all laws just to get to it.

I mean what’s more worse than soldiers being taught to teach at school instead of employing educators who, in years, have trained themselves for every bit of difficulties in handling a child, or an IP student for that matter. Indeed, militarization of education, “it’s more shameful in the Philippines” In Northern Mindanao, the AFP’s 4th Infantry Division was said to have tapped about 125 Lumad soldiers for an education program which will be provided by the Department of Education.

By the end of the year, they are scheduled to be deployed in 35 pilot villages where they are said to organize their respective Alternative Learning System ( ALS) units. As preposterous as it is! Militarization of education has become a policy by the Aquino government using both the AFP and the DepEd, the agency expected to ensure that schools must be zones of peace.

I could not forget the attempt of Dr. Josephine Fadul, a DepEd official in Davao del Norte, to close down lumad schools in Southern Mindanao Region before the school year start this year. Following her request for the closure of three lumad schools was the establishment of a new public school utilizing military as para-teachers. Worst part, during a congressional budget hearing it was revealed that the closure of these schools was in fact discussed during a meeting with the National Intelligence Board-Regional Intelligence Committee which is under the Office of the President.

This, not to mention the approval of the president to recognize and legitimize paramilitary groups such as the ones implicated in Surigao killings and the move to increase the budget for the establishment of more CAFGU and Special Cafgu Armed Auxiliary. This should have stirred our minds.

Using soldiers as teachers is like employing engineers to perform a surgery. It spells out disaster. Moreover, it is an insult to thousands yet unemployed or graduating educators. More to this, are the continuing military attacks on Lumad schools in Mindanao, thus proving they are not fit to teach.

For just a year we have documented 95 cases of attacks on schools perpetrated by the military and it’s paramilitary all over Mindanao since September 2014. The continuing encampment of not just lumad schools but also DepEd schools, threat, harassment and intimidation among students and teachers, destruction of school property and killings have caused 40,000 lumad in Mindanao to evacuate from their communities.

This dire situation of our lumad brothers and sisters has caught the attention of national and even international advocacy groups. However, underlying these events is the scheme to close down lumad schools – just what they did recently in Brgy. White Culaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon where a lumad school was demolished by the barangay captain and the military over an accusation that it is owned by the NPA.

The AFP’s move to use IP soldiers as teachers will ignite more disunity than the proliferation of military-backed paramilitary has done. This is clearly an attempt to divide the indigenous people and discredit their historical resistance to defend their ancestral lands against imperialist plunder and militarization.

After all, education has become an effective tool for the lumad in defending their ancestral lands and fundamental rights. Education has sharpened their knowledge and made them more critical in asserting their right to selfdetermination and legitimate demands. The government is on trembling knees over the growing resistance of the Lumads and is now hellbent to shut down the schools they built through years of hard work.

The incessant military attacks on schools is one of the reason why over 700 lumad, peasants and human rights defenders of Manilakbayan ng Mindanao are now headed to the National Capital Region, and bring these issues at the doorstep of the Malacanang palace where the president is hiding from his accountabilities to the people of Mindanao.

As we get closer to the capital, we call on the people of Luzon and other parts of the country to s u p p o r t # Manilakbayan2015. As the saying goes “the first step to solve a problem is recognizing there is one”. We are from Mindanao, we are here, so please hear us.

Thank you and more power.

Rius Valle Spokesperson, Save Our Schools Network

Southern Mindanao - Lot 3, Sputnik St., Dona Vicenta Village, Davao City 8000, Philippines

Email Address saveourschoolsdavao@ yahoo.com.ph

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