Secretary Mitmug started well at DepEd-ARMM

February 14, 2018

I saw young blood who are promising and idealist, whose promises are often made to be broken and idealism too good to be true. I am thinking he is not one of them.

Barely at his mid-thirties, Atty. Rasol Y. Mitmug, Jr. has already had held high government posts. First, he was appointed as speaker of the Regional Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, then, later, became the chief of staff at the Office of the ARMM Regional Governor. His records in both positions are impressive. And now, he is at the helm of the region’s education department, a sensitive regional cabinet post that is rocked by accusations of corruptions and the like.

Yet, although it is a long road to go with inherent roadblocks, Mitmug has somehow proven his prowess as a government executive just a little over a month in office. His performance as new secretary of ARMM’s Department of Education best describes his ability, courage, and decisiveness, among other qualifications. Thus, at this point in time, it can be said that Governor Mujiv Hataman — in order to end accusations of rampant poverty, injustice and corruption in the department, which, to me, are no more than unfounded allegations unless otherwise proven — is not wrong in pulling out Mitmug from being his chief of staff to head the department left by Dr. John A. Magno who resigned last December.

Last Tuesday morning, I had a chance to observe a meeting Mitmug called for with the chiefs of the department’s bureaus of elementary and secondary educations, and their respective key personnel, together with a representative from the finance office. (I did not see a representative from the Madaris bureau, perhaps, it is not their concern.) Among others, there were two things Mitmug urgently wanted to address: One is the strengthening of the two bureaus to make them truly functional and responsible as regulatory bodies; the other is improving the system in their participation in national events including the national secondary schools’ press conferences.

It looked like that in previous administrations, the bureaus did not function well as matters which fall under the scope of their responsibility were directly brought to the office of the secretary from the ground, say, from the schools divisions, and even from schools, bypassing the bureau chiefs whether if such concerns, as a matter of policy, are to be tackled upon at bureau level. In Mitmug’s view, such procedure (assuming it may not be totally irregular) takes longer, if not too long, to address issues or act upon on submitted documents which is not favorable to public service. Such insight of a superior is an inspiring resolve for the bureau chiefs and their key officials. And the thing to do now is to design a method, or revive if there was any, on how to bring those from the ground follow that policy.

I have one unsolicited suggestion, however, if it has not yet been applied, and that is, to synchronize all incoming communications to be officially received in one record section which will, in turn, forward the communications or documents to the concerned offices, say, the Office of the Secretary, or the Offices of the Chiefs of Bureau, or any concerned office for that matter.

As regards the DepEd-ARMM’s participation in the national schools’ press conferences, in particular, the division levels should adopt more viable and strong schemes in providing their students a training that is competitive and that develops skill to help them in the future to practice for a living in case they may not finish their formal study due to cruel circumstance. This training should not be too politicized coupled with a money-making end.

I have sad experiences when I was asked to conduct pieces of training on campus journalism among English and Filipino teachers in Lanao, as well as upcoming campus journalists, a couple of years back. Modesty aside, I was invited to conduct lectures on campus journalism for both English and Filipino advisers and campus journalists in such reputable schools as Al-Mustapha International University-Makati College, MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology, St. Michael’s College in Iligan City and others, aside from those I did for public and private schools’ English and Filipino advisers in Lanao del Sur along their journals’ editorial staff, or prospective editorial staff.

I learned in the trainings that some teachers responsible for campus journalism (especially in Lanao del Sur) are not qualified to be such. They do not write or speak well in the medium of communication like English or Filipino, and, worst, many participants paid just to have the certificate without attending in person. So that there is only a handful of schools there that are able to produce school journals.

This was so because the very division’s focal person assigned to the job is not solely aiming to achieve a quality outcome, the very purpose of the training, but for something else. Of course, not all the focals of the three school divisions of Lanao del Sur were doing this. For example there is one whom I had refused to conduct the second training of his division because, the focal told my group he had to reduce our honorarium allegedly because his superiors are also demanding shares in the registration fees of the participants. That was kind of a scrap to openly tell us (“Us” who are legit in the media profession and might tell it to the public through our media outlets) such immoral, unbecoming practice of the very mentors of values, good manners and righteousness who are the teachers.

If I may, I should suggest that there should be a revamp in the ground. However as the regional office is not very well aware of that situation, the region should hire a consultant or contractor for that matter who is a renowned journalist, one who is a competent practitioner, to direct the show. I understand the secretary has the power to do so. The choice for a competent practitioner is not more of winning in the competition though he is an advantage. Rather it is more of preparing the students for a promising journalism career if they so desire in the future so that the community, especially the Bangsamoro, can have a fair share in the media industry and our voice can reach wider and heard by more. And, most importantly, to establish a system that is not only easy to follow but improve the process for a quality result.

Mere theory in training without actual hands-on is not enough.

Now, this is one piece that Secretary Mitmug and his people should give a deeper thinking if indeed they want change. (RSP)

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