INFORMATION BLITZ: Paalala sa mga OFW-members ng PhilHealth: Ang PhilHealth membership and contribution ay MANDATORY ayon sa batas kaya magpamiyembro at magbayad ng kontribusyon bago umalis ng bansa. Seguraduhin ang proteksyon ng kalusugan ng iyong sarili at pamilya.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Empowering IPs via NCIP scholarship program

By Franklin P. Gumapon

ZAMBOANGA CITY - Intelligent people are no babblers. When they speak, they are wise and sensible. And now here’s a guy who is one of them: Mohammad Shafiq Lahaman Kiram, 28, a Sama-Banguingui, a tribe that belongs to the Indigenous Peoples (IP) in Western Mindanao.

When the Philippine Information Agency (PIA)-9 was conducting a journalistic writing workshop for IP college students and out-of-school youth in Zamboanga City last June 10-11, there was this participant who silently sat at the back but paid attention to the lecture. Never did he raise any question during the lecture as most participants usually do to show off their abilities. He is quiet but with deep-seated intelligence.

Shafiq, as he is fondly called, is a resident of Putik, Zamboanga City. He took up and finished Bachelor of Secondary Education (BSE) major in English at the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU), Zamboanga City as a scholar under the Educational Assistance Program (EAP) of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). And he had proved to the NCIP that he deserved the scholarship as he graduated from his BSE degree Cum Laude!

His feat has banished the label uncaring individuals portray the IP people as being slow, laidback and naïve. In his essay submitted to the NCIP, Shafiq wrote: “The early years of my college life was not easy. I already anticipated that I would meet different people with varied personalities, different upbringings, and dissimilar cultural context. With these things in mind, much adjustment was done. Hence, I had to deal with people sensitively… I only wear a simple get-up, just right for my humble personality.”

Need for quality education

Shafiq confided that the most defining experience in his life during his college days was his practice teaching. “I was awakened by the reality that our schoolchildren are in dire need of quality education and even quality teachers,” he said. He realized that not only the IP communities are deficient in quality education but in many public schools as well. “Hence, this experience did not only provide me with a leeway to propel and improve my pedagogical competence, but it also taught me life – nothing more, nothing less,” he declared.

EAP scholars

For this school year, NCIP-9 has extended scholarships to more than 300 IP college students throughout the region. Except for a few merit scholars who are receiving P25 thousand financial assistance each per semester, the rest are allotted P10 thousand each per semester. They are also encouraged to study in state colleges and universities, which offer lower matriculation fees.

Parting words to IP scholars

Shafiq empathically appealed to IP scholars by saying: “In the grand scheme of things, education is the key in achieving our dreams. Dreams do come true. Trust me, it did happen to me. I believe others can do it, too, only if they have the tenacity in all that they do. I am a Filipino, a true-blooded Sama-Banguingui, a dreamer then, and now, a teacher fulfilling his dreams.”