COTABATO CITY — Education officials in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Sunday said Muslim school children displaced by armed hostilities in Marawi City are getting hot meals everyday for more than a week now.
Dr. John Magno, Department of Education (DepEd-ARMM) regional secretary, said the meals are courtesy of local and foreign benefactors, includng a Christian humanitarian group.
“This feeding project is a common initiative of the Gawad Kalinga, the World Food Programme and DepEd-ARMM,” Magno said.
Magno said the initiative was meant to keep war-weary children healthy while the continue studies amid bombings and hostilities back home. The DepEd has put up Temporary Learning Spaces (TLS) in public school grounds outside Marawi City.
Magno identified the good samaritans as the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Vision, an international Christian child welfare and protection organization.
The organizations provide for the daily needs of internally displaced children now housed in several TLS in Iligan City and the towns surrounding the embattled Marawi City.
Magno said the regional government is thankful to the local and foreign benefactors for the food aid to distress children who hurriedly fled with their parents when local terrorists allied with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria attacked the city.
As fighting continues and its end invisible at this time, education officials have designed plans so as not to interrupt public school children’s schooling.
Magno eyes expansion of the feeding program to cover other pupils in other evacuation centers in Lanao del Sur to accommodate more children.
Ana Zenaida Unte, assistant superintendent of public schools in Marawi City, said the unaccounted public school teachers since the May 23 conflict have been located and reported to their respective stations.
The Marawi City schools division has 1,426 teachers.
Unte lauded the teachers, who are also internally displaced persons whose houses were also damaged by the conflict, for reporting for work despite the difficulties and security concerns.
“The dedication of our teachers is no doubt remain the same amid difficulties, they still care for their respective pupils,” Unte said.
Magno also announced that the Philippine Public School Teachers Association (PPSTA) has approved a PHP30,000 cash loan for teachers in Marawi City.
The amount will surely help the beleaguered teachers make both ends meet whil also performing their duties. Edwin O. Fernandez/PNA-northboundasia.com