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PIA Press Release

Year-round free breakfast implemented in North Cotabato school

Kidapawan City (10 July) -- The School Breakfast Program (SBP) at Datu Ambel Memorial High School (DAMHS) in Barangay Kilada, Matalam, North Cotabato officially started after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on July 8 at the school campus.

Gracing the event were B/Gen. Datu Dima M. Ambel, Al-Hadj, Chair of the Moro National Liberation Front - Autonomous Tri-People of Mindanao Region - Sebangan Kutawato State Revolutionary Committee (MNLF - ATMR - SKSRC), Dr. Alimin Sinsil, Deputy Director of the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) Extension Services, Ms Yvonne V. Saliling of the Community Action and Rural Bonding Services (CARBONS) - USM Chemistry Department, Mr. Nhor P. Laguia, DAMHS Teacher-in-Charge (TIC), Mr. Zacaria Salundan, DAMHS - Parents-Teachers-Community Association (PTCA) Vice-President, Mr. Armadam M. Salido, DAMHS - Student Body Organization (SBO) President and Mr. EJ A. Matela, MinLand - Post Conflict and Rural Services Director.

According to Mr. Matela, "this private-citizen driven SBP was conceptualized in response to the low completion rate of DAMHS that has produced its first eight (8) graduates in 2008 out of the 50 enrollees in 2004."

He also added that "this Program is a joint undertaking by the different stakeholders of DAMHS primarily the MNLF, the DepEd, the PTCA, the Faculty and the students." Furthermore, he thanked the different stakeholders especially the MNLF leadership for the continued trust and support to the initiatives of MinLand.

The MNLF-ATMR-SKSRC Chair, also known as Kumander Aladin, shared that "one of the problems in Mindanao is lack of quality education." He added that "guns and war is not the solution to the Mindanao problem. Instead economic, educational, agricultural and learning support towards the development of younger generations must be undertaken."

Mr. Laguia, in his closing remarks quoted the Dalai Lama, "Peace in the absence of war is of little value if someone is dying of hunger." He also cited research findings that public schools in Mindanao, although free, have very low quality of education and hunger is the number one reason.

"Marami ang mga estudyanteng nag-enroll sa pampublikong paaralan yun sila ang mga estudyanteng walang kakayahang lumabas at mag-aral sa magagandang paaralan, sila ang mga anak ng mga pobreng mga magulang kung kaya't ang gutom na estudyante ay hindi kayang mag-absorb ang memory niya lalo pa sa math. Going to school hungry most of the time could affect students' performance in school," the DAMHS-TIC reiterated.

The Program is primarily supported by the voluntary contributions of Move On Philippines International, Inc. (MOP), the Filipino International Baptist Church (FIBC) of Jacksonville-Florida, and other private individuals in United States of America and the Philippines. More individual supporters are being approached to extend small contributions that wouldn't hurt their pockets for children who want to go to school despite very trying conditions. It is hoped that the success of this private-citizen driven initiative will inspire its replication in other areas. ( [top]

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