DAVAO CITY – As teachers commemorate World Teachers’ Day today, educators in a village school in Kitaotao town, Bukidnon province are concerned after their village chief ordered the demolition of their high school structures.
(Read related story: Bukidnon village chief gives ultimatum for boarding high-school closure)
Evelyn Cabangal, a teacher of Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. Academy said Barangay Chairman Felipe Cabugnason has already gathered the townsfolk in Sitio Dao in Barangay White Culaman on Saturday and asked the villagers to go to the school on Monday to help in the demolition of the school.
Misfi Academy has a local branch in Kitaotao which is composed of a boarding high school serving 42 Grade 7 and Grade 8 students.
Cabangal said their school property covers more than three hectares and has a two-classroom building and a dormitory.
Cabangal, in a phone interview, said despite the demolition threat they will still hold classes tomorrow.
The village chief, who is said to have been very supportive of the school prior to its operation last year, has accused the school of being built by the New People’s Army (NPA).
The school administrators denied the accusation and filed a complaint in the municipal police against the school’s vilification.
Cabangal said they worry for the students who “cannot afford to go to other schools.”
“This school is for free. Students are given free board and lodging and free school supplies,” she said.
She said the school was built because the community requested for it.
“Tungod baya ani sa ilang panawagan sa mga organisasyong sa White Culaman nga magtukod og libreng eskwelahan nga naa diri ang Misfi Academy (It’s because of the clamor of the organizations in White Culaman for a free school why Misfi Academy was built),” she said.
Cabangal said they hope the local government unit of Kitaotao will act on this issue immediately.
“There is a call to provide education to all children, but the plan of barangay chairman deprives that right for them,” said Cabangal.
“In fact, I recently attended a seminar for K to 12 program by the Department of Education and the call now is “tayo para sa edukasyon” (stand up for education). Where is that now if the village chief will take away the opportunity to educate the children?” she said.
She said they are expecting the barangay officials led by Cabugnason to come to their school anytime with the residents and members of the Army.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognizes that teachers “are the key to sustainability and national capacity in achieving learning and creating societies based on knowledge, values and ethics.”
The Incheon Declaration during the World Education Forum in May this year, also committed to “ensure that teachers and educators are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems”.
The forum was attended by 1,600 participants from 160 countries. (davaotoday.com)