Children in Bangsamoro feel hopeful as in-person classes resume

Two years since COVID-19 school closures, children return to school in BARMM region

UNICEF Philippines
Children in BARMM
UNICEF Philippines
12 April 2022

Poverty, armed conflict and climate change have slowed down the progress for children and families in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, children in BARMM were already facing learning inequalities which were further exacerbated by the prolonged disruption of in-person classes.

UNICEF and the Bangsamoro Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education, supported by the Government of the United Kingdom, are taking part in the road to learning recovery. As of 28 March 2022, a total 125 schools in BARMM have started conducting limited face-to-face learning.

UNICEF asked children from Tawi-tawi and Basilan to share their thoughts and feelings about returning to school after more than two years.

Children in BARMM
UNICEF Philippines

Fourth grader April Jane reveals she missed waking up early for school. “I’m happy to go to our school with my friends and have our teachers welcome us.”

She also adds another motivation, “Having the chance to play with my friends is an important part of me being a student.”

Children in BARMM
UNICEF Philippines

Brielle, 9, is a Grade 3 student who wants to be a doctor. While she feels happy about being back in school with her classmates and friends, she admits she feels sadness because of COVID-19, “It’s infectious and deadly. Children and the elderly were not allowed to go out because they could get infected.”

She shares then how her teachers ensure their safety, “We’re always reminded to use facemask and wash our hands to prevent the COVID-19 virus.”

Children in BARMM
UNICEF Philippines

Xian, who just turned Grade 4, proudly declares that he can now read his modules and draw.

“Drawing stuff is my favorite [so] I was sad when we didn’t have classes. I also missed going to school with my friends. Now, I get to see CJ and Jay, my best friends.”

Children in BARMM
UNICEF Philippines

Kriztyn, 9, says that she feels good about being back in school. “This is good for me. I want to study well so I can graduate college. I missed studying. I also like seeing my classmates.”

She wants to grow up to be a chef.

Children in BARMM
UNICEF Philippines

Nur-Janna, 9, missed studying with her classmates and friends the most. That is why she feels excited about being back in school.

As an aspiring doctor, she gives tips on how to avoid getting COVID-19, “Stay at home, eat vegetables, and take vitamins.”

Children in BARMM
UNICEF Philippines

When he first found out about school reopening, King, 11, felt excited and shy because it had been years since he was around children his age. However, upon seeing his friends and classmates, he immediately felt at ease.

“I always raise my hand to recite and answer my teacher’s questions. Modules could get boring because I’m the only one who answers.”

Children in BARMM
UNICEF Philippines

“I’m happy to be back in school because modules were challenging for me,” says fourth grader Shehana, 9. She wants to be a teacher in the future, and her favorite subjects are English and Filipino.

Children in BARMM
UNICEF Philippines

Ten-year old Jake was equal parts nervous and thrilled when face-to-face classes returned.

“I’m glad about the lessons my teacher gives. I missed their teaching, not like that of the modules that we were doing.”

Children in BARMM
UNICEF Philippines

Ahkramien, 11, is in 5th grade now. Besides learning math, he missed his friends and classmates the most about school.

The most vulnerable children bear the brunt of the learning crisis. UNICEF advocates for the safe and uninterrupted education of every child, especially in times of emergency. We continue to work with partners and the Philippine Government to provide continued support for children’s right to learn.

You can help us reach more children by donating now at https://bit.ly/UNICEFEmergencies.