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Displaced Filipino tribal children get to finish school

Efforts to continue education in Manila due to Mindanao conflict prove successful for dozens of students

 Mark Saludes, Manila

Mark Saludes, Manila

Published: April 01, 2019 09:57 AM GMT

Updated: April 01, 2019 09:59 AM GMT

Displaced Filipino tribal children get to finish school

Tribal children from Mindanao displaced by armed conflict in the region finish their secondary education in a special school in Manila for displaced children on March 29. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

A group of displaced tribal children from the southern Philippines have overcome adversity by completing their secondary education on March 29 far from their homes and school.

The children fled to the Philippine capital Manila last year to escape fighting between government forces and communist rebels in Mindanao.

The 70 tribal children of the so-called “Bakwit School," or "displaced school," attend their moving up ceremony at the University of the Philippines campus in Manila.
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Rius Valle, spokesman of the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network, said the event was a "celebration of their achievements despite the difficulties they have faced because of dislocation."

The "Bakwit School" was opened in Manila in August 2018 to serve the displaced tribal children and provide them the opportunity to continue their studies away from the conflict.

Earlier, the children had been transferred from one place to stay to another provided by academic and religious institutions.

"We want to make sure that their education continues despite the challenges," Valle said.

Data from SOS Network show that at least 85 tribal schools in Mindanao have been closed due to military operations.

International child rights group Save the Children says conflict in the southern Philippines has already displaced 76,383 children.

The report, released last month, indicated that at least 7,200 tribal children were not able to go to school because of armed conflict.

Redemptorist priest Teodulo Holgado, convener of a network of tribal peoples' rights advocates, appealed for public support for displaced tribal children.

"Let this school ceremony inspire us to provide avenues for victims of displacement to pursue their dreams," said the priest.

"It is every child’s right to have a proper education," he said. "We can help them by creating a peaceful environment for all Filipino children," added Father Holgado.

Sister Elenita Belardo, national coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, thanked everyone who has helped the children during their stay in Manlia.

"It is the mission of every human being to promote the welfare of our fellow human being," said the nun.

She said the moving up event was "not just a sign of hope for displaced tribal children but also a display of resilience and determination."

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