Two years have passed since the first gunshots rocked the residents of Marawi, the subsequent siege of which led to the displacement of its residents. Today, many still yearn to return to the city, and for life to go back to normal—not the least of which are its teachers.
In light of this, Far Eastern University (FEU) shows its solidarity with fellow educators by staging a forum on the welfare of teachers in conflict regions. The speakers include Gerg Cahiles of CNN Philippines, professor Tirmizy Abdullah of Mindanao State University, human rights activist Samira Gutoc, representative Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers partylist, and Dr. Nefertari Arsad of the Institute of Islamic Studies of UP.
Cahiles made a recap of the five-month-long siege that transpired while professor Abdullah shared his experiences when the war broke out. On the other hand, Gutoc and Tinio of ACT gave their insights and reports about the struggles of teachers in affected areas of the region. Finally, Dr. Arsad discussed the origins of conflict in some Muslim majority areas of Mindanao.
“This forum is one of the few opportunities we have to make our voices heard and plights known. The gunshots may be gone but our battle is far from over,” professor Abdullah shares as he recalls the difficulties they continue to face. “The role of learning institutions goes beyond expanding the mind of the youth but tying their hearts to the truths of the world. With that, we are thankful for FEU for bringing us here to Manila and giving us a safe space.”
After the talks, there was an open forum with students, educators, and advocates participating in an interactive discussion about the issues tackled. Views, recommendations, and experiences were shared on the quest to uplift the status of teachers in far-flung areas. “In the Philippines, the welfare and teaching conditions of our educators are still a concern,” says Dean Harlod John Culala of the FEU-Institute of Education. “This is an especially pressing concern for those in unstable regions of the country. This is FEU’s way of continuing the conversation.”
The forum is in line with the school’s aim of fostering a truth-seeking and socially-conscious populace. FEU wants teachers to have safe spaces to do their life’s vocation, and believes that involving and informing the community is the first step in this direction.