COTABATO CITY – “I’m excited to be finally appointed by the ARMM Department of Education because I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Johaira Ali said as she awaited the signing of her appointment papers.
Seated beside Ali was Musarafah Ebrahim, a teacher who shared her own excitement. “I’m happy to be here,” she said. “I’ve always found joy in teaching, and I feel like this is truly the job for me.”
They are just two of the 75 teachers whose appointment papers and deployment orders were signed by ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman and newly-installed regional education secretary Rasol Mitmug, Jr. All the teachers present in the signing would be assigned to schools in the first and second districts of Maguindanao.
The mass signing was held at the Badjao Training Hall in the ARMM Regional Compound on January 15.
Qualified, not endorsed
Hataman noted the negative perception in the ARMM regarding appointments.
“I made sure to meet all of you today because I wanted to tell you personally that you are here not because of anyone’s endorsement, but because you are qualified,” the governor told the teachers present in the mass signing.
Meanwhile, Mitmug reminded the teachers of their crucial role as educators.
“Many of the youth here in the ARMM are hoping to receive quality education in our public school system, and the backbone of good and quality education are good and qualified teachers,” Mitmug said.
Ali and Ebrahim, both of whom have served as volunteer teachers prior to their appointment, know their responsibility all too well.
Threat of terrorism
Ali acknowledged the unique challenges in the region, especially with the threat of terrorism and the vulnerability of the youth when it came to the ongoing recruitment of local terror groups.
“I always remind my students to be critical and to refuse when someone recruits them into an unknown group with the promise of a better life. I tell them that joining organizations that promote violence and terror will do nothing to help our community. It will only make our critical situation worse,” Ali said.
Ebrahim, meanwhile, emphasized the importance of education to her students.
“I tell them not to join those kinds of groups because it will do nothing for their future. Failing to prioritize their education will only result to them being left behind as the rest of the community works towards peace and development,” she said.
She also worked on her students’ social skills and sense of community. “It’s important to me that they learn how to socialize and interact with other people. I’ve encountered students who were very shy, but with a bit of encouragement they’re now more open to their peers,” she shared.
Catalysts for change
Seated at the next table was Sandria Mustapha, a former volunteer teacher who was set to be appointed as a public school teacher as well.
“Everybody says this, but I’m really passionate about teaching,” Mustapha said. “I used to volunteer in a high school in Buluan.
As a teacher, I believe we are catalysts for change. Once you’re a teacher, you’re changing the lives of children you’re handling.”
“Values-based education is important,” she added. Every day, we must remind the students of the values we hold dear as Muslims and the values we share with the rest of humanity. It is our responsibility to constantly impress upon that terrorism is wrong.”
Serve the nation
DepEd-ARMM’s Sec. Mitmug, on the other hand, reminded the teachers of their responsibility to the nation. “You may encounter students of different beliefs, they may be Lumad, Christian, or Moro, and it is important to remember that despite these differences, we are rendering our service and commitment to one country.”
Echoing Mitmug’s sentiment, Gov. Hataman said, “We are not here just to work and earn wages; we are here to serve the youth, especially the next generation who will inherit the triumphs and failures of our own.”
“It is important that you are passionate and committed to this career, and you are determined to guide our youth as they learn not just in school but in life. In return, know that the regional government is committed and determined to give you what is right and just,” Hataman said.
The regional government has previously appointed 192 teachers to be deployed in Sulu earlier this month. (Bureau of Public Information)
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