western mindanao

KISSA AND DAWAT: ‘Chopped heads’ and citizenship

April 8, 2019

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/8 April) – This year is our 4-year old son's first awareness about election. Initially, he saw volunteers posting campaign posters, he got curious and asked his mom, "Mama, who are these utud uw (Sinug word, literally, chopped heads) posted outside? My wife told me, he left after a brief explanation, although she is not sure whether he understood her explanation or not. The following day, when he saw another batch of volunteers posting anew, he ran towards the house and shouted, "Mama, they are posting chopped heads outside again!" My wife explained to her again. Finally, when he saw some posters fell to the ground, he quipped, "These chopped heads are creating a mess, granny is tired keeping the front yard tidy". The value of this personal anecdote is for us parents to understand our role in educating our children. We are supposedly our children’s first teachers. Even when they are in school, we are remiss in our obligation if we leave our children’s education to their teachers alone. The latter teach our children in general terms, it is for us parents to contextualize their school learning according to our family’s cultural, linguistic and religious affiliation. Having said that, my son’s anecdote got me thinking, when is the best time and what is the best way to teach our children about election, their right of suffrage and the larger democratic principle. This is akin to the timing of educating our children about sex. I guess, based from my personal and professional experience, the best time is when our children start to wonder and show interest. The worse thing we can do is to shun them and dismiss their query as petty, and like the subject of sex education, consider it taboo to be even talking about it. In my professional experience as a nurse and as a feminine hygiene trainer, when we do not provide safe space for our children at home in responding to their inquisitive minds, we are shooing them away and they will end up asking the same from other people. Worse, they may end up getting responses without account of responsibility, that is, devoid of ethical and moral consideration. My wife and I agreed we will respond to when he inquires about it. In short, on question basis. We pray we can muster the words he will understand, in the context he is familiar with. “Son, we do not call them ‘chopped heads’, they are close-up photos, so that we will remember their face. They are asking us to consider them come election day. Before we vote for them, we need to know if they are good people, do they care for others like mama and papa care for you? Will they behave if they get elected like you behave in school? Will they work hard like you studying hard? Will they follow rules like you holding mama’s or papa’s hands when we walk on the street? Will they share like you sharing your toys with your friends? There will be more elections they will witness before they are finally about to vote themselves. Our explanation will become more abstract and complex as they grow up. Thus, our roles in educating our children is a pillar of responsible citizenship. Exercising the right of suffrage is an element of citizenship as there are more to responsible citizenship than just the right to vote. When we fail to educate them at home, it is hard to expect them to behave differently because we parents are their role models that they brag about with their classmates and friends. Therefore, how we behave ourselves is as influential as what we try to instill in their minds and hearts. According to the US Dept of Education, in a brochure on citizenship, “research indicates that children take values seriously only when they see adults they respect act in accordance with those values.”[1] What we are seeing now as pragmatism in our midst - the oxymoron situation of complaining over wrongdoings in many of our elected public servants and voting for the same candidates in return for monies, gifts and promises – I reckon can be traced to the meaningful citizenship education or the lack of it among our children at home and in school. At home, how can parents teach their children about citizenship when they themselves are ignorant about it? Is ignorance a safe leeway for us parents? At school it is a subject matter to be graded, and when we fail to transform children into citizens as they attain legal age, the status quo remains. If we are able to help them transform, then we benefit what democracy can afford us —like liberty, human rights, and equality.   It is hard to imagine proactive citizens without considering the crucial role of parents or guardians at home as we already recognized the importance of parents and families in character formation. “All parents want their children to grow up to be good people and responsible citizens. Just as children must be taught to tie their shoes, read and write, and solve math problems, so too must they be guided to develop qualities of character that are valued by their families and the communities in which they live” (US Dept of Education).[2] In the United States, the Department of Education came up with a booklet “Helping your Child to become Responsible Citizen”[3]. The motivation behind this booklet is to engage and help parents build their children’s character – from compassion to citizenship, with calibrated activities for elementary, middle and high school levels. In this manner, citizen-building is school. community and family responsibility. This echoes an African adage, it takes a village to educate a child. A similar document can be adopted in our context. The quarterly parent-teacher conference, PTA meeting and sessions with 4Ps parents are some of good media to educate parents on their role and how to educate their children about citizenship. Newly-weds should no only be counselled on marriage but also their responsibility in educating their children about citizenship. In the words of Berkowitz, “governance depended on the character or virtues of its citizens”. Imagine what kind of governance and public leaders we will have without the virtues of citizenship among the people? Conversely, imagine what kind of governance and public leaders we will have with the virtues of citizenship present and strong among the people?

Bangsamoro education ministry welcomes support of development partners

March 13, 2019

COTABATO CITY – The newly-installed Bangsamoro Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) welcomed the support of development partners to improving the delivery of education in the region. Moro Islamic Liberation Front Peace Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal convened a meeting with development partners here on March 7, 2019 – two weeks following his appointment as member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and as MBHTE minister. “Our development partners are vital to achieving our education reform agenda,” Iqbal said, stressing that education is the number one priority of the new Bangsamoro Government. Citing the provisions of Bangsamoro Organic Law, Iqbal said the Bangsamoro Government will establish, maintain, and support a complete and integrated system of quality education, which shall be a subsystem of the national education system. “The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) shall develop an educational framework relevant and responsive to the needs, ideals, and aspirations of the Bangsamoro people,” he said. Iqbal added implementing BARMM’s education reforms could be overwhelming. But he said the support of development partners is reassuring. Among the development partners present during the meeting were the Australian Government-funded Education Pathways to Peace in Mindanao or Pathways Program; Save the Children Philippines; USAID’s Mindanao Youth for Development Program; Plan International Philippines; UNICEF Philippines; and Catholic Relief Services. Also present during the meeting were representatives from Nonviolent Peaceforce; UN-Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; Synergeia Foundation; Forum ZFD; Community and Family Services International; Islamic Relief Philippines; International Children’s Action Network; ACTED; Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP); IDEALS, Inc.; Maranao People Development Center, Inc.; and A Single Drop for Safe Water. Pathways Program Curriculum, Learning, and Delivery Adviser Bonna Duron – Luder shared during the meeting that the Australian Government through the Pathways Program is ready to support the ministry in institutional strengthening, curriculum review and development, policy advocacy, and data management. PBSP on the other hand will mobilize the private sector to support the ministry while UNICEF Philippines will provide technical assistance in education sector planning. “We look forward to working closely with our development partners soon,” said Iqbal. #

PIDS’ expert tackles fiscal federalism in Zambo forum

September 11, 2017

AS debates on federalism in the country heat up, state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) makes it one of the main topics of its Development Research Policy Month (DPRM) celebration this year. Pursuant to Proclamation No. 247 issued in 2002, PIDS has been designated as lead agency in the annual celebration of the DPRM every September to promote the significance of evidence-based research in program planning and policymaking. This year’s DPRM theme is “Strengthening Decentralization for Regional Development” or “Pagpapatibay ng Desentralisasyon Tungo sa Kaunlarang Panrehiyon” to emphasize the need for in-depth reflections and evidence-based analyses not just on federalism but also on decentralization reforms in general. During the 3rd Mindanao Policy Research Forum, which is one of the activities lined up for the DPRM, held at the Ateneo Zamboanga de Zamboanga Auditorium on September 7 (Thursday), PIDS’ public finance expert Rosario Manasan presented the findings of her study on the possible fiscal impacts of shifting to a federal form of government. Manasan talked about the importance of properly allocating financial resources to each level of government under a federal system. According to her, the allocation of fiscal resources may enable or constrain governments in the exercise of their constitutionally assigned legislative and executive responsibilities. She also noted that taxing powers and expenditures are important instruments for regulating the economy. The PIDS senior research fellow underscored that each level of government must have enough revenues to finance basic services for the public. In a federal system, taxing and spending powers are decentralized to local governments or federal states, which give them a free hand to decide how and where to use their budgets. With this setup, Manasan said, they will be able to spend their funds on projects and policies that are responsive to the needs of their localities without seeking approval from the national or federal government. Citing some practices in the distribution of taxing powers in federal states, Manasan pointed out that customs and excise taxes are assigned most of the time to the federal or national government. The same goes with corporate taxes. However, in some federations, these may be under the concurrent jurisdiction of federal and state governments. For personal income tax, Manasan said this may be more directly attributed to the location of residence. But in the case of Austria and India, personal income tax has been exclusively under the federal or national government. Sales or consumption taxes are shared by both federal and state governments, she added. Furthermore, Manasan raised the possibility that some local government units may not be ready for the shift to federalism especially in terms of development and financial stability. To address the risks of greater disparities under a more decentralized form of government, Manasan said policymakers must design a feasible intergovernmental transfer, which could be in the form of tax shares, unconditional block grants, or specific purpose conditional grants to assist poorer states or regions. It can also be through equalization arrangements, which are administered by the federal or national government to help poorer states just like the current practice in Germany, Canada, and Switzerland. Aside from Manasan, speakers including Dr. Romulo Emmanuel M. Miral Jr., director-general of the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department, and Mr. Jonathan Malaya, executive director of the PDP Laban Federalism Institute were also at the forum. The activity, which was co-organized by the Mindanao Development Authority and the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, was attended by members of the academe, civil society organizations, national government agencies, and local governments in Mindanao. Meanwhile, a press conference was also conducted during the event to promote awareness about the DPRM celebration and explain its overarching theme to the press. This is part of the series of regional media road shows organized by PIDS in partnership with the central and regional offices of the Philippine Information Agency.


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