Travelling back to Marawi City last February 20 for a consultation on education priorities was a bittersweet homecoming for the Synergeia family. Marawi City ran several education programs with Synergeia in 2004 to 2010. This time, however, it was sad to see canvas tents serving as makeshift classrooms on some empty lots and in the middle of what used to be playgrounds of schools outside ground zero. Despite the destruction and displacement of war, community is resilient, looks forward to the rehabilitation efforts and is brimming with hope that they can rise again.
School principals, city officials, barangay representatives, DepEd officials and civil society representatives gathered for the day’s activity. It is important that the education priorities of Marawi should be set by the school principals and local officials themselves. City Administrator Sultan Khamid Gandamra, Councilor Nasif Marangit who is the Chairman of the Committee on Education, and DepEd Superintendent Pharida Sansarona emphasized the importance of prioritizing education. Councilor Marangit could not have said it more truthfully that one of the most affected by the war is education of the children of Marawi.
The construction or repair of school buildings has been identified as a top priority. The principals stressed that children cannot go back to school if the classrooms are not rebuilt. Classrooms have to be conducive for both learning and teaching. The principals identified the importance of health and sanitation facilities such as improved water systems, hand-washing areas, and comfort rooms for the learners.
In terms of soft infrastructure, the participants identified training on the use of technology in learning, training on management of schools, and values and peace education as their top three priorities. The educators stressed the importance of making learning fun and creative. They hope that programs on sports, arts, and crafts can be built into the program..
The consultation workshop was truly productive and the real work on Marawi’s education priorities is just beginning. The Founding Chair of Synergeia, Father Ben Nebres, said it best when he said, “It is now the time to look at the long-term future…which is education of our children.”