Monday, October 22, 2007

Ms. Teacher ng Mataas na Paaralan ng Pilipinas

Overworked and underpaid. That would describe the situation our public elementary and high school teachers are in, here in our country, and especially in the provinces. No wonder some (emphasis on some) of them come up with a lot of "creative" solutions to cope with the financial hardships. These are some of them:

1. Selling ice-candy and puto during recess.
“Class you make take your break. Who wants to buy ice candy? You can pay me later.” Said Mrs. Grade three teacher.

2. School supplies, anyone?
“Get one whole intermediate paper. For those who don’t have, you may buy from me. I also have bond paper, ballpens…”

3. You will automatically get a grade of 90% for your project if you contribute______ for ______.
Fill in the blanks. A friend once remarked, they contributed money supposedly to buy electric fans for the classroom but up until they graduated high school, they failed to materialize.

4. Delegating tasks not meant for students.
Pulling grass, sweeping the streets, applying floor wax was part of our curriculum. And because our teachers were handling a lot of classes, the checking of papers would usually be delegated to the top students of the class.

5. The dreaded PTA (Patay, Tatay Aragmot na naman- aragmot in waray means contribution).
“Ask your parents to come tomorrow for the PTA meeting.” To students, that only meant one thing- another round of contribution.

The result is poor quality of education. How can public school teachers focus on giving the best training when their needs are not met?

Because of the large student population, public school teachers are usually given more load than they can handle. In a class, there would also be around 45-50+ students. With those numbers, the teacher will not be able to function effectively, let alone monitor each student’s progress.

There are, of course, great shining examples that stand out from the bunch- noble, dedicated educators who take their job seriously in molding the minds of young people. But low salaries and delayed pay are realities they have to deal with and it would be so easy for them to turn to these “solutions”.

In my years studying in a public school, it’s a little sad to see the real situation in our public educational system- the lack of classrooms, lack of adequate facilities (we lacked chairs in our dilapidated classrooms), lack of books, and most of all, the people in high places just sit and watch these things happen.

Our students are not wanting in talent or in brains and we need motivated and well-trained public school teachers to help students maximize their potential. Correct me if I’m wrong, but more than 70% of youngsters in the Philippines study in public schools. It would be a shame to see our greatest resources go to waste, just because our government failed to invest in our public school system.

Perhaps it is time for our public school teachers to be given due compensation for their efforts.

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