Teaching our teachers

October 04, 2018

As celebration of National Teachers’ Month culminates today, Oct. 5, when World Teachers’ Day is commemorated across the globe, it’s fitting to again pay tribute to the special men and women who nurture young minds and develop citizens into becoming productive members of society.

Teaching is indeed a noble profession indispensable in any society. The vital role of teachers in nation-building is undeniable. Teachers in private and public schools help shape the intellectual prowess of students, particularly those in pre-school and grade school levels where young minds are taught not only how to read and write, but even how to think.

Very crucial indeed is the role of the teacher at that time in a student’s life. If after Grade 3, a student is still unable to comprehend lessons, the inability could last a lifetime, experts say. Thus, the teacher’s persistent efforts to develop and strengthen a student’s mental faculties are invaluable.

It can even be said that teachers ultimately shape our nation’s destiny. The influence they have over kids is strengthened as teachers open up a whole new world beyond home. In such enduring influence lies the foundation for character building and values formation of the Filipino youth.

Countless tales abound on the sacrifices and heroic efforts of many teachers in public schools situated in very poor communities – on how they, despite being financially challenged themselves, share their food or shell out their own money to help students who go to class hungry, and how these teachers really go out of their way to ensure pupils don’t go astray but keep coming back to school.

Amid the heroism of our teachers, however, are some grim realities – on perennial issues over poor quality of education, the low proficiency of some teachers on what they’re supposed to teach, and the dismal results of Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) for a decade now.

A study of the Philippine Business for Education (PBED) revealed that since 2009, passing rate of teachers averaged only 31 percent, way below government’s 53 percent target passing rate, and “behind the average passing rate of those who took up medicine, the sciences, maritime, engineering, accountancy and agriculture.”

“Pag mahina, mag titser na lang (If one cannot excel, just be a teacher)” was how some people view the teaching profession nowadays, according to PBED executive director Lovelaine Basillote who lamented what seems to be a growing mindset that tends to undermine the prestige of the teaching profession.

The poor performance of LET examinees prompted the Commission on Higher Education last year to call for a review of the performance of teacher education institutions (TEIs) to determine those that have to be closed down.

The PBED disclosed that “for the period 2005 to 2009 covering 10 LETs, 154 TEIs produced no licensed teachers.” Also, in 2010, 35 percent of TEIs, roughly 900 institutions, did not produce a single passer.

Poor quality of TEIs logically leads to poor quality of teachers, leading to poor quality of education. In 2014, PBED revealed that a general aptitude test administered among college freshmen who were mostly graduates of public schools “found that only 3 percent were ready for college.”

“Most were entering college with only Grade IV to V reading and math competencies. Overall mean percentage score of fourth year high school students in DepEd’s 2011-2012 National Achievement Tests was 48.9, when the goal was a score of 75. The scores were 46.37 and 40.53 for mathematics and science, respectively. These are all evidence of a weak basic education system,” PBED said.

To improve the quality of potential teachers, the PBED said there must be a more stringent admission requirement – only those in the top 20 percent of a graduating class should be admitted to the teachers’ course. I think such requirement will go a long way to ensure the prestige and nobility of the teaching profession where heroes abound.

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TAIWAN HELPS VICTIMS OF TYPHOON OMPONG

And speaking of heroes, here’s another heroic feat. The government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) is set to hand over a monetary donation as the humanitarian relief fund to help bereaved survivors of Typhoon Ompong recover from the devastation in Northern Luzon.

Honorable Michael Peiyung Hsu, Representative of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines, on behalf of the ROC (Taiwan) Government and its people, will turn over the monetary donation to the head of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in a ceremony at Taiwan’s National Day reception on October 9 at Sofitel Hotel.

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