COTABATO CITY — Member of the Parliament and Minister Mohagher Iqbal of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education expressed the ministry’s readiness to embark on a historic initiative once the bill that would establish the country’s first higher Islamic institution receives approval in the Bangsamoro Parliament.
Iqbal said that BTA Bill No. 31, filed by the Government of the Day, will provide a unique opportunity for Muslim Filipinos to immerse themselves in Islamic and Arabic studies.
The Bangsamoro Organic Law states that the Parliament must enact legislation to develop and strengthen the Madaris educational system in the Bangsamoro region.
The bill, covering 8 pages and 28 sections, is designed to establish a Kuliyyah Institution in Buluan, Maguindanao del Sur, offering Islamic and Arabic Studies courses for both baccalaureate and postgraduate levels.
The Institute, as a higher education institution, will be directly supervised by the Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education, which also has regulatory authority over the profession.
Under the bill, the institution is envisioned to become a hub of knowledge and learning, catering to individuals seeking to deepen their understanding of Islamic principles, history, and culture.
Iqbal said that establishing an Islamic studies institution will not only reinforce the community’s educational foundation but will also develop a sense of identity and pride among Muslim Filipinos.
The CBHTE conducted two rounds of public consultations in Davao City and Quezon City, gathering heads, experts, and representatives from various national government agencies, academic institutions, madaris, and civil society organizations at the national and regional level to give their inputs to enhance the proposed measure.
CBHTE Chair Prof. Eddie Alih said that the committee is optimistic about the bill’s passage this year, which would represent a major step in establishing the Bangsamoro Regional Institute of Higher Islamic Studies.
Among the issues and concerns that were heavily discussed in the consultation process were the institution’s governing body, the powers of the board of trustees, and the qualifications of faculty members.
Resource persons who participated in the consultation recommended that the bill’s provisions be enhanced to establish the institution as a university rather than an ordinary institution. They emphasized that the proposed upgrade aims to elevate the institution’s status and academic offerings.
The Board of Trustees, as stipulated in the bill, will be instituted to serve as the governing body of the Institution, with the MBHTE’s Minister as chair, Madaris Education’s Director-General as vice chair, and the Institute’s President, the faculty association representative, and the Ulama representative as members.
The CBHTE will start deliberations next week to finalize the committee report that will be presented in the plenary in August. (LTAIS-Public Information, Publication, and Media Relations Division)