School President Gives Keynote Speech in the Mindanao-wide Conference on "The State of Education in Armed Conflict Areas"
KALUMARAN - Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao
Conference on school harassment in Mindanao opens in Davao
St. Scholastica's College President, Sr. Mary Thomas Prado, OSB, gave the keynote speech for the conference challenging school heads to make the issues of community schools be known to government for action.
The Mindanao Conference in Defense of Schools Under Attack opened this Sunday at the Episcopal Mission Center, Davao City with 118 teachers, directors of literacy and non-formal schools, community leaders and school children attending.
Various community schools in the Paquibato and provinces of Surigao, Agusan, Davao del Norte, Sarangani, and Bukidnon brave not only the difficult conditions but also the threats of the military present in the communities.
Sr. Prado reminded educators that community schools, which are mostly run by church organizations, serve as mother and teacher of the community, and to hold fast in the face of harassments.
She said education is a human rights issue as there can be no true democracy and justice if the people are not educated.
She quoted Fr. Freddie Dulay's message that "education is a fire to vanquish both ignorance and deception, a fire that is dangerous as only education can be dangerous for the dark corners of the human mind."
Sr. Prado said schools and communities should be "zones of peace", a peace that is "not just absence of fighting, but the presence of justice and freedom."
She shared her college's experience of facing the military in Surigao del Sur when her college brought school supplies to the community school ALCADEV in Han-ayan, Diatagon.
IBON Partnership in Education (IPED) head, Jazminda Lumang, shared that they heard reports that the military has banned their textbooks in some community schools in Mindanao.
The conference continues to its second day as educators and community leaders discuss challenges and threats to community schools. The conference will bring recommendations to a dialogue with government agency heads and officials this coming Tuesday at Ateneo de Davao University in cooperation with Ateneo Public Interest and Legal Assistance.
The Mindanao conference is organized by KALUMARAN-Indigenous Peoples Alliance in Mindanao and Educators' Forum for Development Mindanao.
Dulphing Ogan, Kalumaran Secretary General
Number of Pictures: of