Davao City – Bayanihan or the spirit of helping one’s neighbor is one of the common denominators of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Mayors who met for a Local School Board (LSB) workshop here early this month. “Kung paano kami nag-progress, dapat ganun din sila,” says Mayor Ibrahim Ibay of Parang, Maguindanao, referring to neighboring towns that he laments are still very rural. He hopes the initiated progress in his town will have a domino effect to benefit everyone. “Sana magkatulungan. If they are not economically stable, we are also affected. Kung pare-pareho kaming malakas, lalakas lahat.” He believes that education is the key to solving poverty and that is how involvement with the USAID-funded Educational Governance Program through Synergeia Foundation proves important. He expects the educational reform, now being implemented in Parang, will also reach adjacent towns.
Such admirable sentiment is similarly expressed by Mayor Shajid Khan Pendatun of Gen. SK Pendatun, Maguindanao. “Sana makatulong talaga sa part ng mayors, madala yung iba at maenganyo rin silang matuto.” He and other seasoned Synergeia members have invited other local government leaders to see for themselves how the LSB workshops can help improve children’s education within their territories. Mayor Pendatun humbly acknowledged the need to listen and learn from as many advisors as possible. “It doesn’t mean na mayor ka na, marami ka nang alam. No. No. No.” He says that with the help of his district supervisor, he will do everything he can for the betterment of education.
“No man is an island,” says Mayor Nashiba Sumagayan of Taraka, Lanao Del Sur. While her administration gives top priority to education, she believes it won’t be able to realize its vision and mission by itself. “Malaki ang natutulong nila (Synergeia) sa amin and likewise yung mga ganito (open forums), we are able to bring out the issues and problems confronting us with regard to education.”
Outspoken Mayor Husin Amin of Jolo, Sulu says strenghtening the LSB, as advocated by Synergeia, produced more impact to the improvement of education than his previous efforts. Through consultation with different sectors, the use of funds is monitored and distributed equally. “Majority rule para di masayang.” His LSB is now expanded to include the budget and planning officer, assessor and even a representative from the food sector. “Lahat may accountability. Because of Synergeia, nagawa namin ang programa sa edukasyon. Doon namin nalaman ang importance ng LSB.”
The LSB-ARMM Workshop was held in Davao City on Dec. 6-7 with 20 participating LGUs from the region.