Education – way for peace in Mindanao PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 00:00

Education is not a dream-come-true for many Filipinos. Many critics have lambasted the poor quality of public education in our country—touching on a massive lack in classrooms, school facilities, teachers, books, and other necessities. Additionally, many Filipino students tend to drop out of school due to financial constraints. In fact, national statistics show that, in the poorest areas of Mindanao, only one out of every ten elementary students will eventually graduate from college.

Although the government has been aggressively responding through military means, the Mindanao insurgents continue to fight. Along with this all-out war, the population of the area—composed mostly of farmers and fishermen—suffer through extreme poverty and fear. This has been aggravated with the selfish motives of politicians who use this dire situation to cling on their positions. Poverty will make impoverished people indebted to them  - a kilo of rice and 2 cans of sardines will secure a vote.

The World Food Programme and the World Bank reported in December 2011 that 40% of families in Central Mindanao were displaced at least once from 2000 – 2010 due to war, violence, and banditry. Displacement, food insecurity, and poverty have driven 58% of families to borrow money for food.  This is even true in our city.

Beyond the figures, it seems we have become accustomed to everyday scenes of poverty. We see increasing number of slum dwellers, street children, out-of-school youth, teenage mothers, and  jobless people. Additionally, basic social services in health care and education continue to be expensive and inaccessible to most Filipinos. 

Our present government officials don't care (not doing enough) except talk (blah, blah, blah) about it in seminars and forums and bursh aside concrete actions. Would love to see two city resolutions stating that all local government officials when they get sick will only be confined in Zamboanga Medical Center and they will send only their children in public schools?

We can’t depend on our government officials who have other "priorities". We must move on our own. This is what I admire most of KRIS Library (Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library), an award-winning, non-profit, non-government organization based in Manila. It’s noble mission of waging war against poverty and conflict with one weapon, education, is picking up.

What started as library in Manicahan, Zamboanga City,is now expanding  its educational mission for poor Filipino youth nationwide (Zamboanga Sibugay, Davao City, Rizal, and Metro Manila) thru libraries, scholarships, and learning projects. Since 2001, 50,000 books solicited, 232 scholars empowered, 200 and more Filipino children are reducated at their 6 libraries each day. 

For KRIS, peace could only be achieved by understanding and that understanding could only be achieved by education. It believes that a promotion of youth education will boost morale, give hope, and unlock opportunities to alleviate the status of many.

Under the administration of Arizza Ann S. Nocum., KRIS aims to change the game in the cycle of poverty. It sees an empowered Filipino youth—enlightened individuals who have improved their status on life by studying hard and working hard. By harnessing the tools of education, they will not only help themselves but also help others. KRIS Library’s highest dream is to spark a cycle of empowerment, poverty alleviation, peace, and service in the Filipino youth.

Aside from providing libraries, scholarships, and other educational necessities either directly or indirectly to Filipino children in poor, conflicted communities, KRIS will guide its beneficiaries in every step of the way by establishing mutual learning, tutorial, and literacy programs tailor-fit to suit the needs of the community’s youth.

As the season of Christmas approaches, may we all attain the real peace that we all are aspiring for our beloved Zamboanga City. Reach out and help. You can do it thru KRIS ( www.krislibrary.com).



By Dante Corteza