In BARMM, educators turn to social media as state imposes restrictions amid Covid-19

Mona Miscille Domato, Division Information Officer, Schools Division of Marawi City under the Bangsamoro Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education

MARAWI — As soon as she arrived at her office in this southern city, Mona Miscille Domato pulled out a smartphone from her bag and started browsing their Facebook page to find out the latest within their organization.

A teacher by profession who grew up in the country’s lone Islamic City that pro-IS fighters held for a five-month siege in 2017, Ms. Domato recalled that it was difficult for her to convey vital information among their field co-workers at the Division Office of the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) last year when the central government imposed several restrictions to control the spread of the coronavirus infections.

While sitting at her desk, the 42-year-old division information officer showed from her mobile phone their official Facebook Page, the MBHTE- Division of City Schools-Marawi, which was only used for posting of memorandum of their executives. It only has more than 500 followers before the pandemic but the figures went up to nearly 3,000 after she joined a training on strategic communication.

The online training, according to her, opened a door for them to turn to effective social media platforms in strengthening their information drive among parents, learners, and teachers across Lanao del Sur, one of the five provinces under Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The participants were also taught drafting press releases, mapping of the target audience, and radio programming.

“We now have our group chats. It’s easy to convey work-related information to our co-teachers,” she said in a local dialect, adding they have a daily posting on their Facebook Page about their activities and other necessary office-related information.

Worldwide, people are using Facebook more than ever to counter the dullness of quarantine life, checking the news, and connecting with friends. In the Philippines alone, 72.5 million Facebook users were recorded by Statista, a global leading provider of market and consumer data.

Aside from that, since September last year, the mother of ten children said they have been holding a weekly radio program to reach other areas across the province of Lanao del Sur known with limited internet access.

“We are receiving positive feedback. We decided to get radio airtime as Cellular phone radio has wide accessibility in remote communities,” she said, noting that when she started handling the program she doesn’t know how to start but later managed to adjust and learned the techniques.

In actual radio programing, Ms. Domato usually discussed their methods under the new normal that parents and learners must understand how to continue the education amid the global health crisis, particularly measures to get rid of the virus during the distribution of modules of teachers to their students.

The Australian-funded Education Pathways to Peace in Mindanao (Pathways) has been supporting efforts of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in providing quality education to children across the region.

Since last year, Pathways has been training regional, provincial, and division information officers, including Ms. Domato on ways to tap and maximize various communication strategies and media platforms to widen engagement.

In 2000, Ms. Domato started her teaching career in a private learning facility in this city and then eventually transferred to the government in 2005. She was appointed as division information officer in October 2019.

“After I attended the training, my self-confidence has improved. I found out the importance and significance of my role as an information officer in our division office,” she said.

“My status in life is not important to me but my work and how I will deliver is. Right now, I can say that our work in the division is well organized.”

Education Pathways to Peace in Mindanao is a Philippines-Australia partnership supporting quality inclusive K-3 education for all Bangsamoro children