During the Holy Week it was my privilege to travel with Datu Mussolini Lidasan, Director of the ADDU Al Qalam Institute, Ustadz Janor Balo, Director of Islamic Studies at ADDU, and my assistant, Mr. Vinci Bueza to Iligan, Marawi, and Cotabato. It was an opportunity to propose a Mindanao-wide sports program for peace as well as a Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP)-National Association of Bangsamoro Education, Inc. (NABEi) Volunteer Program. I am happy that we found positive support from Dr. Sukarno Tanggol, Chancelor of MSU-IIT in Iligan, Dr. Macapando Muslim, President of MSU-Marawi, Dr. Ombra Imam, NABEi President, His Eminence Orlando Card. Quevedo in Cotabato, and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim. It is appreciated that Chairman Ebrahim has identified education to be the second and more difficult Jihad for the Bangsamoro.
On endorsement of Chairman Ebrahim and through the leadership of Dr. Imam, the Board of Trustees of the NABEi approved the CEAP-NABEi Volunteer Program (CNVP) last April 22 in Cotabato. In a special meeting of the CEAP Board of Trustees in Malvar, Batangas, last April 22 the CEAP approved the same program.
What are the major elements of this program as approved?
First, its definition: The CNVP is a mutually beneficial volunteer program fostering shared learning and understanding between Filipino Muslims and non-Muslim Filipinos through Catholic (CEAP) and Bangsamoro (NABEi) schools. The CEAP is an association of approx. 1,350 private catholic schools spread throughout the Philippines. The NABEi is an association of some 1,100 private schools teaching Islamic faith and doctrine (madrasah or madaris, pl.), a portion of which also teaches “content subjects” like Pilipino, English, mathematics and science with the recognition and support of the Department of Education.
The current situation: First, even as high-level discussions between the Philippine Government and the MILF have made much progress towards fostering peace in Mindanao through agreements on such a wealth, power sharing and Bangsamoro autonomy, there is on the whole little depth interaction between Muslims and Non-Muslims. Prejudice is preserved or exacerbated through this lack of meaningful contact. Hatred and mistrust persist despite the fact that they have no contact with the other. Second, while the number of madaris that teach DepEd content courses is increasing, there is a dearth of qualified teachers to handle these courses.
The CNVP benefits for the CEAP Volunteer would be as follows:
- Personal experience of Muslim homes and communities in the Philippines shall promote and increase insight into, understanding of, and solidarity with Filipino Muslim individuals, families and communities.
- Personal skills in self-expression and leadership honed
- Insight developed into the “common good” which includes the communities of Muslim Filipinos
- Spiritual growth based on appreciation of “the common Word.”
The CNVP benefits for NABEi schools:
- Relatively competent teachers for non-religious “content subjects” (English, Pilipino, Mathematics, Science, etc.) in Madaris aligned to DepEd standards.
- Advancement in “Second Jihad” for Education (MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim)
- Strengthened Bangsamoro citizens and communities
- Opportunity for personal and institutional growth through dialogue and shared prayer with non-Muslim Filipinos
It is now recognized that both associations have approved the CNVP. Implementation is now underway through parallel activities of the NABEi and CEAP.
- Select areas and welcoming schools in Bangsamoro/ARMM and non-Bangsamoro/ARMM areas.
- Determine numbers of volunteers needed; determine subjects to be taught
- Organize support structures for receiving school, receiving families, local supervisors
- Assure security
- Participate in support system
- Determine academic intervention
- Animate and Organize participating schools and volunteers
- Train prospective volunteers
- Set up supervisory system
- Set up support system
- Set up office – most probably in Al Qalam, ADDU.
Formal Launch of CNVP:
Department of Education Sec. Armin Luistro has agreed to visit the NABEi on May 27 in Cotabato. On that happy occasion, the CNVP will be formally launched.