COTABATO CITY, Philippines — The top education official in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao claims that unlike other regions plagued with shortages of teachers and classrooms no such problem was evident in the ARMM when school opened last Monday.
“There were no teacher and classroom shortages even after we had cleansed the payroll of ghost teachers,” ARMM Secretary of Education Jamar Kulayan told reporters here Wednesday. That was because, as the joke goes, they also eliminated a lot of “ghost students” and “ghost schools.”
When then acting ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman came into office, he launched a massive campaign against the ARMM government’s bloated expenditures and found out that there were “ghost roads and bridges leading to ghost schools attended by ghost students being taught by ghost teachers.”
Kulayan said the purging of the teachers’ payroll alone made the ARMM government save about P800 million in annual savings.
He said even with the smaller number of teachers, there has been no shortage at all because the number of students has also grown smaller following the elimination of about 70,000 “ghost pupils.”
“The discovery of ghost students and teachers, through the use of the biometric system, provided us huge savings and made available some 1,500 classrooms for use by real students this school year,” he said.
Among the five ARMM provinces, Lanao del Sur and Tawi-Tawi had the most ghost students before the region-wide purge, Kulayan said.
For the current school year, some 800,000 students were estimated to have enrolled in 2,500 public schools throughout the ARMM, Kulayan said without providing any figure for teachers to show that indeed there were enough of them.
“By the end of June, the department will know the true picture as late enrollees are still being entertained,” Kulayan said.