Region IX, Zamboanga Peninsula is located in the western part of Mindanao. It is bounded by: Sulu Sea on the north; Illana Bay and Moro Gulf on the south; Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Norte and Panguil Bay on the east; and the Celebes Sea on the west. It is composed of five (5) cities (Dapitan, Dipolog, Pagadian, Zamboanga and Isabela) and three (3) provinces (Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga del Sur) with 73 municipalities and 113 districts. It has a total land area of 15,599.3 square kilometers that covers 5.3% of the total Philippine area and 18.35% of the entire Mindanao archipelago. The bluish vast water span of the peninsula is sprinkled with unique and exotic linkages of islands and islets of which 67 are larger than 1.5 square kilometers.
Zamboanga Peninsula has a population composed of indigenous Filipinos. These are Badjaos, Maranaos, Samals, Tausog, Subanens, Yakans, Kalibugans, Igorots and Bagobos. Chavacano, Cebuano, Bahasa Sug, Kalibugan, Maranao, Samal, Subanen, Yakan, Ilongo and Tagalog are among the languages and dialects spoken in the region. Coexistence of these ethnic groups having unique values, beliefs, religion, dialects, songs, arts, poems, dances and rituals makes the region rich in terms of cultural heritage. These can be sources of IKSPs that can serve as basis in developing responsive curriculum that may result to unity, understanding & peace in the community. However, cultural differences and practices also resulted to conflicts and discrimination that affects the delivery of educational services to the community.
The economy of Zamboanga Peninsula is predominantly agriculture and fishery and to some extent forestry. Its manufacturing industry is characterized by the major existence of small and medium cottage industries. Its sea products boost the presence of canned and bottled sardines, making Region 9 the “Sardines Capital of the Philippines”. It has other marine products that are exported to other countries such as seaweeds/agar-agar, squid, lobster, crabs and octopus. Its coconut industry is now on the verge of producing coco-diesel oil for vehicle. Its home industry like the famous Yakan woven cloth center in Calarian, Zamboanga City has been exported to the major countries in Europe. These factors contributed much to the employment opportunities in the region.
Zamboanga Peninsula has been beset by peace & order issues for a long time especially in isolated areas like armed conflicts, extortions, kidnappings which put the lives of students and teachers at risk and disrupted classes thereby negatively affecting quality education. The situation was further aggravated by the existence of out-law groups that recruit students & OSYs to join their groups, become illegal drug dealers, others become victims of child trafficking and child labor. These have resulted to increase incidence of child abuse, child labor and increased number school leavers, eventually affecting participation rate. However, this situation was minimized through the functional Regional Peace & Order Council (composed of LGUs, GOs, NGOs and other private sectors) that facilitates resolutions in addressing peace and order issues and concerns in the region.