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No cancellation of graduation rites in Maguindanao

Cotabato City (17 March 2015) – There will be no cancellation of graduation ceremonies in schools in Maguindanao despite escalating military operations in the province, a regional education official said Tuesday.

Bai Taya Aplal, Director II of the Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said graduation rites for students in conflict-affected schools will be clustered and arranged in a safe location nearest their schools.

She said schools that are being used as evacuation centers will still hold graduation rites even if it may require the construction of temporary platforms.

Classes in 63 elementary and secondary schools in Maguindanao have to be suspended due to the joint offensive launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in 25 February against elements of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. This has affected a total of 23, 681 students and teachers.

Aplal said the disruption of classes is an attack on education in the region.

Military operations have already displaced 24,714 families or 123,537 individuals as of Monday. The conflict has now escalated to 15 towns in the province, prompting the provincial government to declare a state of calamity.

Nine schools currently host thousands of displaced families, serving as evacuation centers. “For these affected schools, our alternative is to cluster their graduation and conduct it in the nearby schools not affected by the armed conflict,” Aplal said.

“We know that the presence of IDPs will affect the graduation rites thus we are recommending the construction of temporary structure for their ceremony.” (Bureau of Public Information)

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