SUBMERGED SCHOOL. The Pagagawan Elementary School in Datu Montawal town in Maguindanao is one of many schools that's submerged in floodwaters during heavy downpours in Maguindanao, Bukidnon, and North Cotabato. BARMM education minister Mohagher Iqbal (inset) said Tuesday (Sept. 20, 2022) that they will build flood-resilient schools to prevent further disruption of classes. (Photos courtesy of Datu Montawal LGU and Bangsamoro Information Office – BARMM)

COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will build flood-resilient schools for their students to avoid disruption of their classes, the education minister said on Tuesday.

“Aside from the coronavirus disease 2019  pandemic that (is taking a) heavy toll on the learning process of Bangsamoro learners, we are also facing flood problems that submerged many public schools in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur,” BARMM education minister Mohagher Iqbal said Tuesday.

Iqbal said the region's Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education (MBHTE) is looking for immediate solutions to this perennial problem to avoid accidents during floods and reduce the disruption of school operations in flood-prone areas.

“For a long-term consideration, we are designing school buildings that are resilient to flooding,” he said, adding that schools in the region will have similar designs. 

Iqbal said there are school buildings that need reconstruction and repair, particularly in most affected areas such as schools in Cotabato City and the BARMM Special Geographic Area (SGA) in North Cotabato.

“We experience floods repeatedly, and it affected our school grounds and school buildings, we are addressing it,” Iqbal said. In Maguindanao, recent floods inundated 20 out of the province’s 36 towns.

There are more than 250 public schools in the province.

As classes resumed their face-to-face (F2F) setup, Iqbal said there were schools that were not used for everybody’s safety.  School administrators and teachers found alternative ways to provide venues to teach the learners in support of MBHTE's mission that “no Bangsamoro child shall be left behind.”

Iqbal said his office will soon distribute financial aid to public schools across the region as they prepare for full F2F classes.  

The BARMM covers the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi; the cities of Marawi, Lamitan, and Cotabato; and the 63 villages in six towns of North Cotabato. (PNA)