Is it still a school if there are no teachers nor students?
Imagine a whole city its schools in just a matter of days. Some are burnt down, others are riddled with bullets.
The Marawi crisis has not only destroyed schools, but also the livelihood of teachers.
It has displaced around 1,400 teachers and nearly 60,000 learners from both public and private schools.
More than three months after the initial clash between a local armed group and government forces, several teachers and students are yet to return to the classroom.
Teacher Salma is among them.
Many of them are currently teaching and studying in temporary learning spaces like tents – since host schools lack the capacity to accommodate all transferee students.
Losing her home, her school
On the day the Marawi crisis broke out, Teacher Salma was attending a funeral. Upon returning home, she saw houses burning down. Her family decided to evacuate the next morning.
Salma has been a teacher since 1997.
Teaching is her greatest passion; it plays an important part in her life.
Ironically, one of her 12 children is out of school. “Due to financial problems,” Teacher Salma explained.
Due to the ongoing conflict, the schooling of her other children was also interrupted.
“My children are wishing for the Marawi crisis to end so we can return home,” she shared. “And so that we can return to our classrooms.”
Always a teacher
Despite losing her own home, Teacher Salma is more worried about her students. (WATCH: This mom won't let conflict tear families apart)
“When there’s conflict, children suffer the most,” she said in Filipino.
“Because their schooling situation is already different from what’s normal.”
Sadly, Teacher Salma observed that some displaced students still miss classes. Why? Because they lack food and clothes.
“Even us, the displaced teachers, we now depend on our relatives for such needs,” she admitted.
Aside from uniforms, displaced children also need more learning materials and armchairs.
More teachers like Salma are also needed in host schools.
Conflict, says Salma, will never stop her from teaching.
Even during these difficult times, she continues to inspire and empower displaced students through education.
“I advise the parents of displaced children to please provide moral support for your kids,” she continued. “And teach them good values.”
Together, let's save Marawi's children. Let's empower more teachers like Salma.
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