THE Department of Education (DepEd) is tracking down hundreds of public school teachers from Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province.
“With the opening of classes in Marawi still pending, not all teachers have reported to the (school) division. Being unable to report, however, does not mean that they have gone missing,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said.
Since May 27, the DepEd, through its offices in Regions 9, 10, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Services, has been tracking and assisting students and teachers fleeing the fighting. The Education department deployed teams to evacuation centers and communities near the conflict area to find displaced students and teachers, assess their condition and refer them to schools where they can enroll.
“They [Marawi teachers] are not missing, actually they were not just able to be present during that meeting understandably because they are also affected [by the conflict], and maybe some of them are looking for food and shelter,” Assistant Secretary for ARMM Marjuni Maddi told reporters in a news briefing at the DepEd central office in Pasig City.
“We have to track them down to make sure that we properly account for the learners and the teachers of these affected areas of Lanao del Sur province,” Maddi added.
Marawi City has a total of 1,411 teaching and non-teaching staff.
“More than 200 are still to be tracked. Some of them presumably are temporarily residing with their relatives in Metro Manila, Cebu, and most are in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan,” Maddi said.
He added that all Marawi teachers will undergo psychosocial first aid and support starting next week to ease the trauma caused by weeks of fighting in the city.
“We will not deploy them to the temporary learning spaces if they did not yet undergo psychosocial first aid because they too have been traumatized,” Maddi said. “The task that will be given them will be determined after the psychosocial first aid because we cannot just simply let them work on something if we did not gauge how they are . . . after the trauma you cannot really say that they are perfectly ready to teach, some of them still have trauma,” he added.
The stress debriefing, psychosocial first aid and orientation for interventions will take three days.
The Education department gave assurances that all Marawi teachers will receive their salaries even if they have not reported to the division.
“They can withdraw their salaries . . . we have to do that. That’s the best way to help them. We have to release their salaries,” Maddi said.
“In case they lost their ATM, we can give them pay checks,” he added.
As of June 15, 7,344 learners from Marawi have been enrolled in schools in Regions 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, Caraga, and National Capital Region. The education department has waived all requirements for enrollment and advised all public schools to accommodate the influx of transferees. NEIL A. ALCOBER