Women Yearning to Learn


Rocma Abdulraman writing her name

There has been a long history of disparity in terms of access to education among men and women in Muslim communities. In the past, most women were prohibited from going to school because of the belief that they should never leave their homes and were mainly expected to fulfill household obligations.

For this reason, Rocma Abdulraman, 53 years old, had a limited chance to go to school. “I think I stopped school when I was in grade two,” she recalls.

“Every time I ask my parents to send me to school again, they always scold me,” Rocma shares while trying hold back tears. However, she promised herself that when she is old enough and able, she would get an education.

But life seemed to have other plans for Rocma who at an early age of 15 was forced to marry. “I could not do anything about it. If I went against my parents, they would have disowned me.

And as she got older she was still deprived the opportunity to avail of formal education.

Rocma Abdulraman with other women ALS learners
Women ALS learners provided with learning kits

It was in 2018 when Rocma learned about the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Mindanao Trust Fund – Reconstruction and Development Project Phase II (MTF-RDP/2). She was hesitant at first because she thought it was already unusual for her age. However, the first day of class made her realize that age is not an issue as long as you are willing to learn.

Rocma regularly attended the Basic Literacy Program under the ALS together with the other enrollees from Barangay Wago, Lumbayanague, Lanao del Sur. Fortunately, her husband, a farmer, was very supportive of her new endeavor.

“It feels so good that I can finally write my full name,” she said. “I can now distinguish letters and numbers,” she proudly added.

Adapted from Community and Family Services International (26 Feb. 2019). Stories From the Field: Undying Desire for Knowledge. URL: https://cfsi.ph/stories-from-the-field-undying-desire-for-knowledge/ (accessed on 05 June 2021)