"Iskulelat": An Eye-Opener

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Last monday, August 4, 2008, I was able to watch the episode "Iskulelat" a GMA News and Public Affairs documentary. It told the story of a far-flung elementary school in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao, Ariman Guro and the struggle of the teachers and students to teach and learn from what ample is given to them.

Every year, the Department of Education holds the National Elementary Achievement Test for all schools and every year, schools in Mindanao end up in the bottom ten. This year, Ariman Guro Elementary School in Lanao del Sur got an average score of 21.7%, the lowest grade among all elementary schools in the Philippines.

Sandra Aguinaldo, an award-winning journalist takes a good look at the dire situation the people of Ariman Guro face and her exposé expertise is given justice in this eye-opener documentary as she discovers Ariman Guro has only six teachers for all grade levels, with no subject specializations. The school sorely lacks chairs and tables and the only textbooks sent to them by government is for the Makabayan subject, they don't have textbooks for english, math and science, forcing the teachers to buy textbooks using money from their own pockets. The students at Ariman Guro often miss class because of the prevalence of "rido" or clan wars in the area. Many of the students here belong to warring families. She tells the story of 11-year old Fahad Cosain, who recently lost his uncle to Rido. For that and his own safety, he stays at home now instead of going to school. His young cousins now carry guns to protect themselves from attack. The school's candidate for valedictorian, Rahimah Nasroden, was also affected by her family's clan war. Rahimah was not allowed to go to school during the height of the conflict, for fear of abduction and possibly even assassination. Rahimah is back to school now and determined to finish her education, believing this is her only way out of poverty.

I can't help but to feel saddened by the fact that there are people who still suffer from this and also to feel thankful that I have been blessed to finish education when others struggle to even finish elementary and I thank God and my parents for that.
Sandra Aguinaldo also found out from the teachers there that they received funds from the regional education department fit only for buying chalk. The question then is what happened to the fund that is supposed to be theirs? This is evident that corruption bugs the town and its people. Do their government officials know the predicament of their actions? Do they know of the difficult situation the students and even the teachers of Ariman Guro face? How could they take the future of the children and their dreams. The evil that rido brings is a mere thing compared to the malice of corruption. This is the bringer of woes. The plague that has since bugged the Filipino people. When will this end? Nobody knows for sure, but until we stay apathetic from this kind of issues, nothing will change. I just hope that the questions that boggle the students and teachers of Ariman Guro are answered soon and the emancipation from the bondage of corruption and violence that they are hungry for be given to them.


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