No less than President Benigno S. Aquino III gave the keynote address in this gathering of heads and administrators from some of the 433 Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) in Mindanao. An event dubbed as Top-Level Action Agenda of Higher Education Institutions for Mindanao Peace with its core theme: Schools Serving Society, highlighting the bid to map out the role of the academe in the achievement of lasting peace and development in this part of the Philippines.
Led by Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU) president, Fr. Antonio F. Moreno SJ, through its Social Development Council, this 2-day conference features talks by Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Mujiv S. Hataman and Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair, Sec. Luwalhati R. Antonino focusing on the critical role of HEI’s in the reform agenda of the ARMM and the implementation of the Mindanao 2020: Peace and Development Framework Plan. Also included are group discussions with representatives of multi-sectoral organizations —women, indigenous peoples, civil-military, etc. This activity is just one of the many slated to close the year-long centennial celebration of the said Jesuit university.
In his address, the president is expected to outline the reforms in education and peace-building that his administration intends to implement in Mindanao, most notable of which is the recent signing of the Framework Agreement between the government peace panel and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
In a statement, Fr. Albert E. Alejo SJ, assistant to the AdZU president on social development and conference director, made a pitch for realizing the untapped possibilities that Mindanao colleges and universities can share in light of the recent inroads in peace-building and development in the island. He further adds, “We realize that our institutions, today, can and must be social actors in the society that also affects our operation and to which we are called to serve. Our faculty and facility, our instruction and research, our local presence as well as our wider network can and must be engaged in Mindanao peace and development. This shared pro-active learning in the service of a more effective intervention is what we envision in the proposed meeting of university and colleges presidents.
The release of a joint statement, in response to the president’s challenge, will culminate the said meet.