Context of Higher Education in Mindanao:  Peace and Justice

[Presentation to the UNITED BOARD for CHRISTIAN HIGHER EDUCATION IN ASIA, ADDU Calungsod-San Vitores Center,  JUNE 10, 2019]

Ateneo-0999

The topic that was suggested for me was: the “Context of Higher Education in Mindanao:  Peace and Justice”.

In the context of the conversation that we had with UNITED BOARD President, Nancy Chapman, Vice President, Wai Ching Wong, Louisa So and Hope Antone prior to this meeting, I thought that would mean how we at Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) are trying to do higher education in the context of Mindanao’s aspirations towards peace and justice.

Screen Shot 2019-06-10 at 11.44.52 PMLAY MAY 15-17, JUST 3-weeks ago, we initiated a strategic planning process for Ateneo de Davao University towards a new strategic plan, “One Ateneo, One Plan”, to cover the next decade, but especially the next five years.

I believe it is very much an expression of how this university is trying to respond to the challenge of peace and justice in Mindanao.

Last week I presented this to our Faculty General Assembly.
https://taborasj.wordpress.com/2019/06/03/a-challenge-to-one-ateneo-one-plan/

I wish to share some of it with you.

But just a word about our previous strategic plan, “AFIRE for the Common Good”, which we issued shortly after I took office as ADDU President in 2011:

Strategic Planning and Passion

  • Warnings before I came about how difficult it would be to lead ADDU.
  • 2011:  The Shared Passion, Shared Vision Workshop.  5 days in Eden.

We gathered some 60 individuals who were passionate about something. They represented faculty, staff, students, administration, alumni.

“Are you able to express your passion at ADDU.  If so, how?  If not, why not?”  The experience was one:

Of listening…..
Cathartic….

From a “teaching university” to a “UNIVERSITY: AFIRE”

The previous administration had belabored that this was a “teaching university”, not an NGO.  No Vision and Mission statement had been approved

But beyond instruction, the faculty wanted to do research

They wanted to “get involved with Mindanao”

The SMI Open Pit Mine:

Threatened the water system of Mindanao, the old-growth forests, the biodiversity in the area

Divided the Blaans

Poverty

17% under the poverty line in the MetroManila Area; 30% in the Visayas; 40% in Mindanao, but 60-65% in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

The poorest regions of the country in Mindanao

IX, Zamboanga
X, Northern Mindanao
XII, Soccsksargen
XIII, Caraga
BARMM

Education:  Worst literacy levels in the Philippines

ARMM – 71.6% (vs. 86.4 nationwide)

Educational Policy Debates

Quality and Quality Assurance
Pre-K-12
Pre-RA 10931

Social Dynamics:  Indigenous Peoples, Islamized Indigenous people  (both Lumad),  Christian settlers

Struggle of Muslim Filipinos to Retain their faith in Islam and freely live their traditions.

Vs. a dominant Christian majority who felt they had the right religion

Vs. an American government that saw the Christian Filipino as the real Filipino.

Vs. Acts of government which caused the loss of the Muslims of their lands, power, and hegemony in the areas,

MNLF, MILF, Abu Sayaf, BIFF, Maute

“Historical Injustice”

Struggle of the Lumads to retain their cultural identity and their ancestral lands

Caught between military forces and revolutionary groups

Struggle of Christians to settle in and prosper in Mindanao

ADDU stratplanners wanted a Mission statement that was appropriate to this situation

From this experience, we formulated the Vision and Mission of 2012.

The VISION Statement:  Fundamental self-understanding

The Ateneo de Davao University is a Catholic, Jesuit and Filipino University.

As a university it is a community engaged in excellent instruction and formation, robust research, and vibrant community service.

As Catholic, it proceeds ex corde ecclesiae, from the heart of the Church.

As Jesuit, it appropriates the mission of the Society of Jesus and the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

As Filipino, it prepares students to benefit from, contribute to and engage the global world.

University first*

Instruction/formation; research; outreach

(academic freedom)

critical
innovation

Then

Catholic

From the heart of the Church: “Ex Corde Ecclesiae”
“privileged position”*

Jesuit

Appropriates the Jesuit Mission
Ignatian Spiritualty

Filipino

Profits from and contributes to the global world

Challenging Mission***

The Ateneo de Davao excels in the formation of leaders for the Philippine Church and society, especially for Mindanao.

It excels further in the promotion of the faith that does justice, in cultural sensitivity and transformation, and in inter-religious dialogue, particularly with the Muslim and Lumad communities of Mindanao.

It promotes communities touched and transformed by the faith, communities of peace and human well-being, culturally resilient yet able to adapt to the modern world.

It promotes social justice, gender equality, good governance, the creation of wealth and its equitable distribution.

It engages vigorously in environmental protection, the preservation of bio-diversity, and the promotion of renewable energy.

It leads in Philippine educational reform, especially for the peoples of Southern Philippines.

The Consequent Strategic Plan:  “AFIRE for the Common Good”.

Some of the ADDU INITIATIVES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN THE PAST 5 YEARS in the context of this Mission

EXTENTION

Strong position against open-pit mining

Strong support for the Bangsamoro

For fulfillment of government promises in Peace Talks such as the Comprehensive Agreement Bangsamoro (including the Tripoli Agreement)

For the passage of legislation creating a political entity which would be autonomous and self-determining

For the Passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law

Environmental Science: Disaster Risk Reduction in the context of Climate Change

Heavy contribution to the “Jesuit Roadmap to Mindanao”

Election of Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) from Davao.  Critical Collaborations his Administration.

Anti-Mining Position

China:  Discussion of the Pivot to China and the West Philippine Sea.

Support for K-12, Unifast Law, a modified RA 10931,

The War Against Drugs is warranted

EJK is immoral
Center Against Illegal Drugs

24-hour hotline
community rehabilitation in 29 barangays
human rights based policing/security services
research in the drug trade in Mindanao

INSTRUCTION

Development of a Multi- and Interdisciplinary Core Curriculum Based on VM

Faith-based commitment to the common good.

Establishment of the SHS in a stand-alone campus in Bangkal

Vertical alignment of courses from GS to HE

Extraordinary Energy in Engineering

Renewable energy

Center for Renewable Energy and Appropriate Technologies
Mindanao Renewable Energy Center

Ignatian Spirituality Formation Office (ISMO)

Retreat Program (SISC)
Ignatian Spirituality Program

RESEARCH:  University Research Council

University Funded Research to jumpstart research
Founding of the Al Qalam Institute
Tropical Institute for Climate Studies (TropICS)
Regular City-Wide Social Surveys (CWSS)

Screen Shot 2019-06-10 at 11.45.19 PMThe Newly Formulated Vision and Mission Statement

Catholic, Jesuit and Filipino.  However, with reference to the urgent challenges that face the University from Mindanao, and in the context of the Philippine Province’s “Roadmap to Mindanao,” the members of the Stategic Planning Workshop  decided to STRESS THE IMPORTANCE OF MINDANAO in the Vision Statement by altering its last sentence.

OLD VISION NEW VISION
The Ateneo de Davao University is a Catholic, Jesuit and Filipino University.

As a university it is a community engaged in excellent instruction and formation, robust research, and vibrant community service.

As Catholic, it proceeds ex corde ecclesiae, from the heart of the Church.

As Jesuit, it appropriates the mission of the Society of Jesus and the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

As Filipino, it prepares students to benefit from, contribute to and engage the global world.

The Ateneo de Davao University is a Catholic, Jesuit and Filipino University.

As a university it is a community engaged in excellent instruction and formation, robust research, and vibrant community service.

As Catholic, it proceeds ex corde ecclesiae, from the heart of the Church.

As Jesuit, it appropriates the mission of the Society of Jesus and the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

As Filipino, IT CONTRIBUTES TO AND SERVES MINDANAO.

THE MISSION STATEMENT STRESSES that the ADDU as Filipino serves Mindanao.  It does not mean that ADDU does not form globally capable students.  But in that the formation of this capability is ultimately for Mindanao.

NEW MISSION STATEMENT [Proposed]

It participates in the reconciliation by the Father
of humanity with Himself,
of human beings with one another, and
of humanity with the environment.
It strengthens faith. It promotes humane humanity.
It engages in inter-cultural, inter-religious,
and inter-ideological dialogue especially in Mindanao.
It responds to the needs of the Bangsamoro, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao,  as well as the needs of Lumad communities.
It promotes the creation of wealth and its equitable distribution.
It strengthens its science and technology instruction, research,
and technopreneurship  in Mindanao.
It promotes cultural understanding and friendship with its Asian neighbours.
It promotes lifelong learning and the dialogue between academe and the world of work.
It protects and promotes of the environment as “our common home.”
It develops ADDU sui generis leaders who appropriate this mission for life.
It treasures and works with its alumni/ae.

BRIEF EXPLANATORY COMMENTS TO THE PROPOSED NEW VISION STATEMENT:

It participates in the reconciliation by the Father of humanity with Himself, of human beings with one another, and of humanity with the environment.

As a Jesuit University, ADDU in academic freedom appropriates the Jesuit Mission as its own mission.  It preserves the previous Mission statements of the Society of Jesus (Faith, Justice, Cultures, Dialogue, Envoronment), but it stresses the initiative of the Father in this three fold reconciliation and undertakes through Jesus and in the Spirit to participate in this reconciliation.

It strengthens the faith.

Fortes in fide.  It recognizes that all begins and ends in faith, and in being strong in faith.  In a Catholic university this is clearly through the Catholic faith and in strengthening Catholic believers in this faith through appropriate instruction and formation.

But in today’s world, it is through strength in the Catholic faith that one accepts the diversity of faiths and confessions and enters into dialogue with different faiths and confessions, hoping that through this dialogue the faith of the participants in this dialogue is strengthened.

It is in strength of faith, that one can hope to be strengthened by the witness of persons and peoples of other faiths.

HE agenda :  Development of strong theology instructors/formators in contextualized Mindanao theology.  Strengthen collaboration with the Redemptorists’ St. Alfonsus Theological and Mission Institute (SATMI) Imperative.  We are not outputting enough.

It promotes humane humanity.

It recognizes that the value of humanity in the initiative of the Father to reconcile it to himself, i.e., to draw it away from sin, corruption, violence, and alienation of humanity from the Father and from humanity itself.  It undertakes to labor for the humanization of humanity in grace.

HE agenda:  cultivation of insight into humanity (and consequent need for social justice) through liberal arts (literature, social and natural sciences, arts, history, philosophy and theology).

On this depends the formation of conscience, sensitivity to social injustice and the life-long commitment of students to work for social justice.

It engages in inter-cultural , inter-religious dialogue and inter-ideological dialogue especially in Mindanao.

This inter-cultural, inter-religious and inter-ideological dialogue is an imperative of human fraternity and peace in living together in Mindanao.

Inter-cultural dialogue:  Mindanao is rich in cultures.  Yet the domineering global culture threatens to kill many of these cultures.  The peoples of varying Mindanao cultures  are caught between needing to preserve their cultures and values and needing to adapt to the ways,  lifestyles  and demands of the global world.

Meanwhile, the quest for the common good in the Philippines, or of Mindanao, or of the BARMM, is stymied by people who cannot think and act outside of their local cultures.  The integration of the common good of peoples of diverse cultures requires dialogue.

HE Intervention.  From the Department of Anthropology: studies of Lumad communities.  Inter-cultural dialogue on the ground through immersion.

Inter-religious dialogue.  The religious claim that one’s faith/religion has exclusive access to all truth is belied by the religious extreme violence that has clouded human history. Dialogue among peoples of diverse faiths is necessary to prevent violent extremism.  Dialogue among peoples of diverse faiths is necessary to purify and strengthen the faith of a people.

HE Intervention:  Dialogue of Life, dialogue of shared common causes, dialogue of theologies (not yet) with benefits in instrucion, research and outreach.

Inter-ideological dialogue.  Despite the failure of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the CPP-NPA-NDFP, peacemakers representing NGOs and religious organizations, believe that dialogue with these groups must be continued.  Even in using a whole-of nation approach to attaining peace, dialogue with adversarial groups in necessary.

HE Intervention.  We host the dialogues between Government and the CPP/NPA.  We participate in the “whole of nation” approach spearheded by Irene Santiago in the City of Davao beginning with the Pakibato district.

It responds to the needs of the Bangsamoro, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, as well as the needs of Lumad communities.

Out of its commitment to social justice, ADDU needs to continue responding to the need of the Bangsamoro for recognition as Filipino Muslims whose Islamic faith is legitimate in the Philippines and who have the right to live and protect their Islamic traditions and values in a plural Philippines.

HE Intervention:  ADDU needs to explain this need to any and all parties who do not understand or accept it. ADDU re-writing, “re-righting” Philippine History from the viewpooint of Mindanao, from the viewpoint of documenting actual historical injustices.

Out of its commitment to reconciliation and peace, ADDU needs to partner with the BARMM, as the political entity emerging from the peace talk and willed by the majority of Muslim Filipinos, to make sure that it functions properly and fruitfully towards peace and prosperity in the Bangsamoro and in Mindanao.

HE Intervention:  continue to develop its Islamic Studies program, including Islamic Finance, Sharia Law.  Develop short- and longterm programs in preparing Muslims to be better teachers in Madaris and public schools of BARM and for the civil service.

Out of its commitment to social justice, the ADDU must learn to partner more with Lumad communities to protect Lumad culture and values from onslaughts coming from the NPA, the Military, or from development aggression.  It must mediate between the cultures of the Lumad and the cultures of the lowlands, including the global culture.   It must learn to contribute to Lumad education so that their educated leaders are not alienated from their ethnic cultures.  It must learn to contribute to the development of Lumad leaders for the common good.

HE Intervention:  Continue to host dialogues with the IPs concerning their plight, improve scholarship commitment to IPs (through Mindanawon)

It promotes the creation of wealth and its equitable distribution. 

This is our response to widespread poverty in Mindanao:  not encouraging students to hand-out wealth in pity, but to create wealth in entrepreneurship and technopreneurship.  Yet, not just to create wealth to amass personal wealth, but to create wealth and see that it is equitably distributed.

More than ever before, we know we must respond in inter- and multi-disciplinarity to pressing human needs in society in Mindanao in order to generate this wealth and insist on its equitable distribution.

HE Interventions:  Understand where the pressing human needs are, e.g.  access to quality education, secure and sustainable access to fresh water, food security, universal access to electricity, access to telecomunications, need to process data, efficient transporttions systems, etc.

Relevant research and responsive technopreneurship

It strengthens its science and technology instruction, research, and technopreneurship in Mindanao.

This is the development need in Mindanao.  Other private schools in Mindanao are not focusing on this as we wish to, while public education has MSU-IIT and USTSP.  Other Ateneos in the Philippines have not focused on science and technology.  We desire to excel here, but we must begin by strengthening our capabilities here.  We have much promise in these areas, as in our School of Engineering and Architecture, but we still have many weaknesses.  Our learning outcomes from various courses and units in science and technology is not where we want them to be.  We must make significant investments in improving or creating laboratories and spaces for creative learning.

Technopreneurship at ADDU must combine technology and multi-disciplinarity and inter-disciplinarity to respond to real human problems in society.  Though it will work with government, it will not be dependent on government to work out solutions.  It must be directed not towards private profit, but must allow private profit to enable contribution to the common good.

HE Interventions:  improve academic delivery on mathematics and science from the GS through HS and SH to higher education.  Make sure expected learning outcomes for higher education are achieved.

Work to upgrade current faculty skills (e.g., university-wide science and tech organization, formal studies)

Recruit competent facult from academe and industry.

Promote visits of professional experts for talks, pakighinabi, worships.

Partner further with professional associations like  and with PICIERRD of DOST

It promotes cultural understanding and friendship with its Asian neighbors.

Originally I would have liked this to have simply stated China.  China is the second largest economic power in the world;  it is flexing its muscles, testing the waters, wanting to deal with us.  We need to be prepared for this.  We need to engage China, e.g. in its Belt and Road Initiative. With the help of Consul General Li Lin, we will be establishing a Confucius Institute.   With the help of Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, ADDU may become a partner University of the Chinese embassy outside of MetroManila.  This will give our faculty scholars access to any of the specialized Universities of China.

There was however a queasiness among some in the Upper Room to include China exclusively in our Mission statement.  Such inclusion could lead to the impression that we approve of China’s behavior in the West Philippine Sea or its economic aggressiveness.

While it was clarified that studying and dealing with China would not mean acceptance of all its policies but the formation of future generations of graduates who could better deal with China, it was pointed out in the Upper Room that we have significant historical ties with Japan, which ought to be maintained.  Japan is also a major player in the international peace initiatives in Mindanao.

Furthermore, for a University as our focused on Mindanao, it would be mandatory to increase our knowledge of and capability of dealing with our ASEAN neighbors, especially Indonesia.  Partnering with Indonesia and Indonesian universities would help us in disciplines related to Islamic Studies, the Sharia, Islamic Finance and how to deal with religion-based violent extremism.

HE Inteventions:  Language, history and culture studies on China, Japan and ASEAN nations, esp. Indonesia.  Establishment of a Confucius Institue in ADDU in cooperation with Huaqiao Univeristy.

Take advantage of offers for scholarhsips in China through Amb. Zhao Jiaming.

More public discussion on the BRI of China as it impacts on Mondanan, the JAIKA programs as they mpact on Mindanao, etc.i

It promotes lifelong learning and the dialogue between academe and the world of work. 

Learning does not stop with the acquisition of a tertiary-level degree.

Rapid changes in technology demand continuing retooling both for students and teachers.

As the permeability between the academe and the world of work increases, the pursuit of an academic degree may no longer be allowed to stand in the way of students contributing immediately to the world of work.

HE Interventions: ADDU must adapt its academic structures to be more responsive to this rapidly changing world of work.

This is beginning with the further institutionalization of the Ateneo de Davao-Academy of Lifelong Learning (ADD-ALL) into the mainstream of the ADDU.  ADDU prgrams respond more to actual learning gaps in society and in developing qualifications to respond to these, rather than to the achievement of academic degrees – without diminishing the importance of academic degrees.

They are fun (at least initially), but they can lead to second academic degrees by stacking units and contribute to continuing professional development (CPD).

Need to restructure academic offerings to allow greater permeability between academe and the world of work.

It protects and promotes the environment as “our common home.”

We have distinguished ourselves in this advocacy through Ecoteneo and UCEAC, esp. in our opposition of large-scale open-pit mining, or advocacy for green spaces in davao, for the protection of Shrine Hills, and our work in making our campus green (e.g. our extensive use of solar energy and ban on single-use plastics).

We must keep this up.

Especially in Davao.

HE Inrervention:  But we must focus to further develop and consolidate our expertise here, eg, in envi science, urban planning

It develops ADDU sui generis leaders who appropriate this mission for life. 

By ADDU sui generis leaders we understand leaders formed as a result of the ADDU vision and mission  – with its stress on its values and mission commitments, especially to Mindanao and the common good.

We have done well here.  But we have only just begun.  Many still do not really understand what it means.  They talk of “sui generis” without “ADDU”.

Many still do not commit themselves to it for life.

The ADDU sui generis leader commitment to the common good must be formed well before graduation.  It must be the product of integrated instruction, formation and outreach.

It treasures and works with its alumni/ae.

If the ADDU sui generis leader is “for life”, ADDU must undertake to support those whom it has trained both through programs of lifelong learning and through formation programs that welcome and involve the alumni/ae.

The Ateneo Blue Knight Association (ABKA) through its Board has been trying to integrate the alumni/ae in the implementation of the ADDU Vision and Mission.  We must welcome its collaboration in mission.

HE Intervention:  create programs for the ongoing formation of the alumni in order to integrate them into implementing the strategic plan of the University

 

 

——————

*GC 34, Decree 17.  Jesuits and University Life

**John Paul II.  Ex corde ecclesiae:  apostolic constitution on

Catholic Universities:  “A Catholic University’s privileged task is to unite existentially by intellectual effort two orders of reality that too frequently tend to be placed in opposition as though they were antithetical:  the search for truth, and the certainty of already knowing the font of truth” (No. 1)

***GC 34. Decrees 1-5.  This includes “Servants of Christ’s Mission”. “Our Mission and Culture” and “Our Mission and Inter-religious Dialogue

Ateneo-1090

 

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About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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