Floating schools bring basic education to children in water villages in ARMM
Siasi, Sulu – A fleet of 7 floating schools bring basic education to over 200 Badjao and Sama children in different water villages in the three island provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) this school year.
In the waterfront village of Tampakan in the island Laminusa in Siasi town, Sulu, a group of 30 Badjao children take their first day of class Monday in one of the floating schools.
A day before, the children listened to encouraging words from Danny Jardan, a Badjao professional teacher, who was brought in by ARMM Education Secretary Jamar Kulayan at the launching ceremony of the project.
Badjaos have little regard for formal education and it is extremely rare to find professionals like Danny among them.
Danny is one of the more than 1,000 new teachers hired by ARMM’s Department of Education this year. Speaking in vernacular, he urged the children to persevere and pursue their education. “Don’t be lazy to attend school everyday. It’s the only chance for you to help get your family out of poverty.”
Families in the village live on shanties that stand above a fetid, waste-littered water on stilts.
BRAC Philippines, which is handling the Alternative Delivery Model (ADM) project component of the Australian government-funded Basic Education Assistance for Muslim Mindanao, have built 7 floating school boats to cater to the education needs of children in villages like Tampakan in ARMM’s provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
M Nazrul Islam, BRAC Philippines country representative, said they have adopted the “boat school” project of their head office in Bangladesh which they find suited to the culture of the Badjaos and Samas, who are mostly reluctant to mingle with people belonging to other more dominant Moro tribes.
Rosemaria Saibung, 31 and a mother of 7, sends two of her children, 7-year old Al-Hayson and 6-year old Jerryson, to the BRAC floating school in their village in Tong-Tong in the main island of Siasi.
“We are very thankful to you – to BRAC, to the ARMM government – for this school. Otherwise my children won’t be able to get education,” she said.
Rosemaria huddles with other parents on a platform where the boat school is moored as their children attend the all-Badjao class.
BRAC, an international non-government organization based in Bangladesh, employs innovative and community-driven learning methods that have earned it recognition from around the world. It is operating a total of 1,220 learning centers, including the floating schools, in the ARMM, bringing basic education to around 40,000 children in remote and hard to reach areas. (Bureau of Public Information)