Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe and Datu Salaban Diocolano, Municipal Mayor of Kabuntalan signed the grant contract for “The Project for the Construction of Classrooms for Gambar Elementary School” on June 13 at the Embassy of Japan.
The project, amounting to $119,975 (approximately P4.8 million pesos), is funded through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP).
Gambar Elementary School in the Municipality of Kabuntalan, Maguindanao was established in 1972. During the period under Martial Law, the school was burned down and soon closed. In 1974, the school was re-opened with makeshift classrooms, but ceased its educational activities again during the armed conflict between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) because of displacement of families. Classes resumed but only on a gradual basis in 2005.
Later in 2009, school operations were once again interrupted due to clan wars. It was not until 2011 that the school operations were normalized through the stabilization of the peace and order situation in the municipality.
The existing classrooms are 38 years old now and dilapidated through the years. The school does not have enough desks and chairs. The improvement of the educational environment of Gambar Elementary School has been of urgent need.
Through the GGP, Gambar Elementary School will be funded for the construction of six new classrooms. The new classrooms are expected to provide a more conducive learning environment and enable each grade to have an individual classroom instead of multi-grade class. It is also expected that the project will contribute in uplifting the livelihood of conflict-ridden families by providing educational opportunities to their children.
The project is part of the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD). Implemented since 2006 and designed to contribute to the peace process and development in the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao, the objective of J-BIRD is to enable the people and the communities in the target areas to enjoy the “dividends of peace” through the Japanese ODA (Official Development Assistance) on the basis of “Human Security” principles. As of May 2013, 67 grassroots projects have been implemented under J-BIRD, with the total amount of USD 5.7 million or approximately 290 million pesos.