Teachers are put in quite a hot seat recently, not to mention the fingers pointing at them due to the atrocious ranking the Philippines got in reading comprehension, science and mathematics. In rebuttal, the teachers blame the system. Hence, this has led to a number of propositions from various personalities. The Department of Education is ruminating on putting English back as medium of instruction, while Sen. Cynthia Villar talks about disbanding small schools and giving rewards to good performing students. The Sec. Leonor Briones on the other hand, firmly holds her position about giving due consideration to our history and culture in designing our curriculum. In all these conundrums, the teachers could only hope for real solutions.
Before you join in the bandwagon to judge the latter any further, let us take a look at what they do; rather, what they are asked to do:
1. HEAPS OF FORMS
Any paperwork always goes with most jobs. That is something, especially the teachers, cannot do away with, hence doing only the most important and necessary forms can help. If forms could be merged - Why not? It should also be taken into point that teachers do these forms because they are the front-liners of data gathering, which is also crucial in determining the progress of the learners. But perhaps, lighter and more practical ways can be crafted the soonest time possible. Well, it's the 21st century, is it not?
2. GREAT DEAL OF PAPERWORK
There are necessary paperwork that needs to be accomplished especially those that require teachers to organize their class and the skills (not the subject) they ought to teach their students. One cannot be called a teacher if he/she does not do planning. Anyhow, these can be done ahead of time; these can be scheduled long before classes start. Then again, it's the 21st century! Other than that, there are also reports that need to be undertaken. Let us just hope they are not labeled, urgent.
3. CONTEST ARRANGEMENTS
There are various competitions spearheaded by the Department of Education. This is one way to test the strength of the school in terms of learner cunning and flair. This is a good stratagem as this provides opportunities for students to experience the real world but it may have taken its toll on the learners who are in dire need of their teachers who, on the other hand, may not be available because of trainings and preparations for competitions (not to mention the pressure instilled on them about winning). They may be left to do activities on their own which in turn maybe futile without the teachers to guide them.
4. PREPARATIONS FOR ACCREDITATIONS AND VISITS
These are times that could almost give teachers heart attacks showering them with an even puissant amount of stress. Then again, it's the 21st century; this could be easily dealt with in the presence of coordinated school principals, who know their way in and out of this agenda. Sometimes, these visits get facades and not really the true image; the real conditions. Well, let's face it, who would want to fail in the eyes of their supervisors? I wouldn't. So, there is high tendency of faking in this aspect. This tends to sugarcoat the prevailing problems in the educational system especially that it is mostly run by papers - a lot of papers. The intention is for progress though, but the process may point to stray and confusing directions and if not addressed may endanger the outcome.
5. PRESENTATIONS FOR THE FIESTA AND THE LIKE
Teachers do a lot of dancing and so with the rest of the performing arts. Well, teachers are born performers. Imagine if they could do all that in their classes? But because they are required to perform for the community, they are to stay long hours for practices or in worse case scenarios, classes are suspended. In my point of view, this is a good break from the teachers' routines. This may even be a good confidence booster and may enhance self-expression..... But, at what cost may I ask?
Do you see now how much the teachers got on their plates other than being "teachers"? It is true however, amidst this dismal ranking the Philippines got, that the focus should be on the welfare of the teachers (quoted from Fr. Nebres) in order to assure the well-being of the learners. The best way to actuate that is to let teachers be teachers. Let them do what their license apprises, "teaching". Give them ample time to be actually with their students to guide the latter to the processes of every performance task. The curriculum obliges teachers to teach skills. How would that be possible when the teachers cannot be with them because they are sent to do this and that, prepare this and that, accomplish this and that most of the time?
Philippine Education may have been quite hard on teachers. It expects them to mold students into reputable and dutiful citizens but gives the former tons of manuscripts to take care of with urgency. According to an article in Independent, teachers suffer more stress than other workers. This is based on the analysis by the National Foundation for Educational Research in UK. The article also discusses how teachers are likely to quit their jobs due to stress. Here in the Philippines, not most teachers can afford quitting; most have to take on the challenge and suffer in silence as it is a stable job (there isn't so much jobs here), though a few isolated cases reported teachers resorting to suicide. Many others decided to teach abroad where it pays better with lesser stress.
If only bureaucracies be narrowed down in the educational system. Let no politics and business agenda stir the supposed "noble" job which has drastically become synonymous to "stressful" job. Well, in the end as they always say to ease out the creases, it's the perspective that makes the difference. I hope our leaders could also put into perspective the condition of the teachers in order to ensure quality education among learners. You might as well ask whether all the bundles of paperwork delivered to your office can truly define Philippine education.
Busby, E. ( 25 February 2019). Teachers suffer more stress than other workers, study finds. Retrieved https://bit.ly/2Ei889C
Philippines ranks low in reading, science, math, global survey shows. (3 December 2019). CNN Philippines. Retrieved https://bit.ly/2YNKzPF
Punzalan, J. (10 December 2019). DepEd mulls English as medium of instruction after students' dismal int'l assessment. ABS-CBN News. Retrieved https://bit.ly/2PDcmxK
Quote from Briones, L. (10 December 2019). [Facebook post]. Department of Education-Philippines Facebook page. Retrieved https://bit.ly/2LVrGVs
Quote from Nebres, B. (9 December 2019). [Facebook post]. Department of Education-Philippines Facebook page. Retrieved https://bit.ly/2LVrGVs