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The (Filipino) Teachers' Story

(The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the institution that I am connected with. The accounts presented in this article is based on my co-teachers' perspective.)

Teaching is said to be the noblest profession, they say. All other jobs will not exist without the help of these unsung heroes.

They work day and night just to make sure that their pupils (for elementary learners) and students (for secondary and tertiary learners) will be able to get some new information during their classes. Visual aids need to be made. Lesson plans need to be written. Books that need to be read. All these things just pile on the desk of a teacher every night, which lessens their time with their own families.

Aside from the hectic teaching schedule, they also need to do a LOT (emphasis again on LOT) of other unrelated teaching activities. They need to follow their principal's directives. They need to clean their rooms so that the evaluators will be impressed. They need to dig their classroom's backyard, fetch some water at the nearby well, build another bulletin board just to satisfy the intense demands of these evaluators, at their own expense.

Thankfully, these teachers have received the recognition they deserve as President Rodrigo Duterte increased the salaries of our beloved heroes. But will this ever be enough?

Despite these minimal increase in the take-home pay because of the said salary increase and the removal of income tax due to the Tax Reform for Acceleration And Inclusion Act (TRAIN), these efforts will never be enough. As long as our teachers will handle some of the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses, these teachers will always be burdened. Even though the government takes care of these expenses, there will be a time that a teacher will unwillingly spend their own money. This is a sad reality whether it may be in the urban or rural community.

But this did not hinder our teachers from performing in their jobs. As the things that they need to do in the four walls of the classroom piles up, the amount of their loan also increases. Our teachers rely on these loans just to make up their lost money spent for their classrooms. Lucky for some teachers that some parents are willing to assist them in these endeavors, but how about those who are unfortunate?

Though they said that change has come, this is not directly felt by our teachers. Even though the education sector received the biggest budget chunk since time immemorial, it seems that the programs implemented for them are not enough. Classrooms were not enough. Books are not enough. Learning resources are not enough. Teachers, including other school personnel, are not enough. What we have is a mass number of pupils and students who are have no choice but to be satisfied with what is given to them.

Financial recognition is just a start. It should have been done a few years ago. Thankfully, the present administration has shown their value to our beloved teachers. More resources should be allocated to MOOEs to lessen the number of teachers that will resort to loans with unjustifiable interests. No more teacher must shoulder the expense of building his/her classroom's bulletin boards, or trash cans, or grooming corners. The money that they could spend on this might be realigned to his/her family expenses.

Professional support should also be prioritized. More and more training should be undertaken and given to our teachers to keep up with the current global trend towards education. With the first graduates of the K-12 curriculum starting another chapter this year, it is now time to reassess if the said program helped the current educational system or made it worse.

Lastly, as the number of mental health issues rises in the country, we should also take a step back and check the psychological stability of our teachers. With all the naughty students and financial problems that they face every single day, they have become more susceptible to mental health issues. Counseling must be done to all teachers to make sure that they are equipped inside and outside their classrooms. Support must be given to those teachers who are victims of this hidden and silent cases.

At this time of misinformation, chaos, and impunity, we have no one to go but to our teachers. Our teachers serve as the foundation of our learning and our identity. May we not be blind with the struggles that our teachers face. Let's work hand in hand to raise the current status of our fellow teachers.


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