"Such moves are
unprecedented since this will be done for the first
time in the history of Philippine education," he
explained after discussing the matter in Malacañang
with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, other Filipino
education officials and Brunei's Minister of Education
Pehin Dato Haji Abdul Aziz Umar who expressed support
for the plan.
According to Abad,
authorities thought of integrating the two curricula
since they observed that the current 'madrasa' program
is limited in scope.
"The current program is
basically confined to providing training and education
and Islamic studies and values," Abad noted.
Among the subjects taught
in 'madrasa' schools is the Quran or sayings of the
For centuries, curriculum
in a 'madrasa' institution was always essentially
religious in character because the school aimed to
prepare an 'ulama' or future Islamic religious scholar
for his work.
The Nizamiyah was among
the earliest 'madrasa' schools, having been
established in Baghdad around 11 A.D.
Integration is also
timely, Abad continued, since the number of teachers
qualified to teach in 'madrasa' schools is not
proportional to the number of Muslim students in the
He said some 2.2 million
Muslims are currently enrolled in Philippine schools
which offer government's basic education program.
"There are about 1,000 'madrasa'
instructors, however, whose ability to teach subjects
under the Islamic curriculum vary," Abad observed.
President Arroyo and
Minister Pehin view this development as a
confidence-building measure, he said, since this
demonstrates government's sincerity in improving the
plight of people in Mindanao.
"We want to increase
public investment in 'madrasa' education so that it
will be easier for Muslim students to eventually move
towards studying under our regular curriculum," the
DepEd head added.
To implement the
integration plan, he said authorities are currently
looking into public schools with a significant number
of Filipino Muslim students.
The Cabinet member did
not elaborate on funding details although he said the
administration will appreciate additional financial
assistance for this undertaking.
Pehin himself expressed
optimism that the integration plan will be successful.
"We are looking forward
to brighter years ahead as we hope to improve the
curriculum," he beamed.
The education roadmap is
actually already on the road, the minister continued,
since Filipino scholars continue to enroll in Brunei's
Pehin is hopeful that the
number of enrollees from the Philippines will increase
since scholarships are still open to citizens of
countries belonging to the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Brunei and the
Philippines are both active members of ASEAN which
held its 10th summit last month in Vientiane, Laos.