Lumad school teachers ready for opening of classes

Teachers of heavily militarized IP community schools in Southern Mindanao are ready for the start of school year 2016 despite which may face the last wave of military operation of the Aquino administration’s Oplan Bayanihan.

According to the spokesperson of Save Our Schools Network, Rius Valle, about 169 teachers were sent off to 67 IP schools from Salugpongan Community Learning Center and Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI) institutions in Southern Mindanao region this week and also in some parts of neighboring regions this week.

“After their courtesy to different municipal mayors, they are going back to different Lumad communities” said Valle. Amidst the continuing threat and harassment among schools, teachers have accepted the task of fulfilling education to Lumad children. Some 400 students evacuated from Talaingod, Kapalua and White Culaman to UCCP Haran due to military operations in the past two years

“We are determined to teach them no matter what. We don’t want to fail them. We want them to finish their studies and become what they want for their tribe” said Ronie Garcia, the Executive Director of Salugpongan Community Learning Center. Garcia added that nothing will hinder them from upholding the right of the Lumad children to education which the Aquino government have been trying to deny.

“The increase in the number of volunteer-applicants for community educators only confirmed that many are now aware of the plight of our lumad children and are willing to take risks for a promising cause – to educate the Lumads.

Meanwhile, Valle pointed out that Lumad evacuees currently staying in UCCP Haran, Davao City and in Tandag Sports Complex, Surigao del Sur will still be resuming their classes in the evacuation site as they remain anxious and wary of the presence of military and paramilitary forces in their communities.

“Part of our campaign this year will be the return of thousands of Lumad evacuees to their communities. We wish to arrange a dialogue with the incoming new president Rodrigo Duterte about this matter” said Valle. #