“Still Keeping That Piece of Orange Paper”: Teaching Peace with the Madaris Volunteer Program, One Student at a Time
By Michael Aaron Gomez
Upon receiving the highest grade in English together with two classmates, a fifteen-year-old Grade 10 student from the Gani L. Abpi Colleges, Inc. in Datu Piang, Maguindanao said that their Madaris Volunteer teacher “gave [them] a piece of paper with a short but inspirational message with matching Mentos candy.”
One can only guess what that anonymous message could have been, but here is what the student says next to finish the story: “Until now, I’m still keeping that piece of orange paper.”
MVP’s Midyear Capability Enhancement Training Builds Communities, Strengthens Compassion
By Michael Aaron Gomez
October 24-28, 2017 saw the Madaris Volunteer Program (MVP) hold its third annual Midyear Capability Enhancement Training (MCET) at the Ateneo de Davao University. Madaris Volunteers, madrasah administrators, and organic teachers from the MVP’s twelve (12) partner-madaris participated in the training. The MCET itself—composed of lectures, discussions, and structured learning exercises—is designed to sustain and reflect the MVP’s efforts in enabling its partner-madaris to collaborate fully in the mission of building peace through education.
Two different training programs compose the 2017 MCET: Compassion in the Classroom: A Training Workshop for Madaris Teachers, held at the Multipurpose Room in the Miguel Pro Learning Center; and Building School Communities Together: A Capacity Enhancement Training for School Administrators, held at the Conference Room C-1 in the Ricci Hall.
At Compassion in the Classroom, Dr. Gina Lamzon of the Ateneo de Davao University School of Arts and Sciences (AdDU-SAS) delivered a lecture intended to help instill the values of dignity and self-worth, as well as to enable the development of positive relationships among the madaris teachers, amid the effects of personal alienation. Meanwhile, at Building School Communities Together, Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ, President of the Ateneo de Davao University, delivered a lecture that used his personal experience—his journey—as an educational leader to help guide the madrasah administrator participants in their own tenures as leaders of their own schools. Ateneo de Davao University Vice President for Finance Mr. Jimmy Delgado also gave out tips on financial management and fundraising to the administrators in his own lecture.
Sharing the Gift of Compassionate Leadership at the 2017 Madaris Leadership Program
By Michael Aaron Gomez
The Madaris Volunteer Program (MVP) held the first iteration of its annual Madaris Leadership Program for Bangsamoro student leaders and teachers last September 17-21, 2017 at the Eden Nature Park in Davao City. This year’s program comprises two separate seminar-workshops, respectively called Compassionate Leadership: A Training-Workshop for Bangsamoro Leaders, and Teachers’ Training: Cultivating a Culture of Peace in the Classroom and Beyond. Student leaders and teachers from the MVP’s twelve (12) partner-madaris in the Bangsamoro participated in the event. These workshops are aimed at sharing with the students the gift of compassionate leadership—“to see as others see and to feel as others feel”—as well as helping the teachers build lasting peace in the classroom that would spread among the larger community.
Intended to renew these student leaders and teachers’ focus on the Bangsamoro struggle, the program primarily comprised group workshop sessions and lectures by several resource persons. These lectures were focused on concepts central to “compassionate leadership” and its relevance to the Bangsamoro community: “Self-Awareness & Concept of Person,” delivered by Ms. Lilibeth L. Leh-Arcena of the Arrupe Office of Social Formation (AOSF); “Self-identity,” by Dr. Rosalinda Tomas (AOSF); “Concepts in Islamic Leadership,” by Datu Mussolini Lidasan of the Al-Qalam Institute (AQI); and “Exemplars of Muslim Leaders,” delivered by Ustadz Janor Balo of the Salaam Movement (SM).
Changing the Odds through Madaris Volunteers
By Fr. Joel E. Tabora, S.J.
for Pakighinabi, Manila Times, 29 June 2015
The National Association of Bangsamoro Education, Inc. (NABEI) was launched on March 9, 2014 in the joy and optimism of the signed Framework Agreement Bangsamoro. In the rejoicing that the armed struggle may finally have been over, Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim, Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was quick to say, “Our jihad, our struggle, is not yet finished. We are elevated to another jihad that is more difficult.… The difficult path is now passed from freedom fighters to the educators. You educators are now on the frontline.” It was a stirring call to genuine education in a packed gathering that mixed madrassah educators with armed revolutionary warriors assenting to the insights of Ebrahim with the oft-repeated chant, Allahu akbar! Allah is great!
On Good Friday of 2014, it was my privilege to meet Chairman Ebrahim; I was accompanied by Dr. Ombra Imam, President of the NABEI. On that occasion, I asked the Chairman whether in the spirit of his “greater jihad” he would be willing to support the idea of volunteers from schools of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) to teach DepEd mandated courses like mathematics, science and history in Islamic schools or madaris (plural of madrassah). His warm and welcoming consent at that meeting led to the eventual organization of the CEAP-NABEI Volunteer Program. Today, it is referred to simply as the Madaris Volunteer Program (MVP).
Madaris Volunteer Program: An Apostolate of Presence, A Shared Engagement for Transformative Education
By Aivy Rose N. Villarba, Ateneo de Davao University
Around 40 to 60 students sit in wooden chairs inside a classroom. Five little learners share a reading textbook. Two other kids share a broken pencil while the whole class shares a box of crayons.
This is but a common scenario in some madaris (Islamic schools) especially in most conflict-affected areas of Muslim Mindanao.
It was way back in the 1980s when some researchers asked the madrasa officials what their main problems were. They said they need an updated library, improved physical facilities, and most of all more qualified and competent faculty. Over the years, not much has changed, but small ripples of improvement slowly comes to the madrasah shores.
Madrasah (or its plural madaris) is from an Arabic word meaning school. It is from the root word dars, which connotes a learning process done through drill lessons. The madrasah is a community-based and community-managed school where the primary training is centered on the Qur’anic reading, Islamic teachings and Arabic reading and writing.
Cited in a research of Abdulrahim-Tamano Pandapatan, the madrasah started as a small household concern, termed maktab, where a guru (teacher) taught a small group of children. Shariff Kharimul Makhdum, the one who built the first mosque in the country in Bohe Indangan, Simunul, Tawi-Tawi, first introduced it in the Philippines in the 13th century.
It was in the 1920s when Maulana Abdul Aleem Siddique Al Qaderi, a Muslim intellectual, stimulated some of the activities of the Muslim Associates of the Philippines including the establishment of madaris in the provinces of southern Philippines. The madaris were mostly found in Mindanao where the majority of the Muslim communities are located.
The madrasah is considered as an institution of learning in most Muslim communities and a significant part and symbol of Islam.
The Madaris Volunteer Program: Dialogue through Action
By Jennae Jereza, Ateneo de Manila University
There are places in Maguindanao that embody unheard narratives of peace and prosperity among its people. Stories unheard and usually unwelcomed by those who are fettered and discouraged by talk of unrest and prejudice; it is indeed regretful, because the stories of the Moro are nothing short of inspiring and honest. The tales of Maguindanao are worth listening to and learning from. And this is something the Madaris Volunteer Program (MVP) would like to empower and represent through the discourse of education and dialogue through a 10-month service program.
Madrasah/Madrasa (or its plural madaris) is the general term for schools foregrounded by Islamic studies and Arabic literacy all over Mindanao. Ever since its formal establishment and recognition by the government in 1954, the madaris have played a very important role in the preservation of the Islamic faith and traditions. By 2005, an Undersecretary for Muslim Education was appointed to be part of the Department of Education (DepEd). This was alongside the formation of the Standard Madrasa Curriculum (under DepEd Order No. 51, s. 2004) and was adopted by the ARMM RG Executive Order No. 13-A, s. 2004. Little by little, the madaris gained support and acknowledgement from the government and various other institutions. However, in light of the poverty and hostilities that plague Mindanao, the madaris struggles to be in its best state to offer quality education to its students. Hence, as a response, the initiation of a joint project between the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) and the National Bangsamoro Education Inc. (NABEi)—which is the MVP.
The Madaris Volunteer Program is a ten-month service program where volunteers would be exposed to a cultural immersion as assistant teachers for the major subjects (English, Math, and Science) in select partner madaris. It aims to create an environment of mutual respect and understanding between the Bangsamoro community of schools and the teacher volunteers, while assisting in the improvement of madaris education. There is enough news and media to discourage anyone to join the MVP. After all, a trip to Maguindanao does inspire a sense of alarm and discomfort. But the problems faced by the madrasa are very real. And it calls to us to at least attempt to listen and understand. And I think the only way to understand what education means to the Moro is to understand what Maguindanao means to the Moro. And for the most parts, for better or for worse, Maguindanao is their home.