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EDITORIAL - Empowering teachers

The country joins the celebration of World Teachers’ Day today, paying tribute to a profession that plays a critical role in national competitiveness and progress. Although efforts have been made to improve compensation for teachers, however, many Filipino educators still prefer to take jobs, especially overseas, for higher pay.

Armed conflict in the Philippines has also scared away teachers from the areas where they are most needed, in underdeveloped conflict zones such as Sulu, where Abu Sayyaf gunmen specifically target schools and teachers.

The problems are not unique to the country. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization estimates that the world needs 69 million teachers if the global objective of universal primary and secondary education is to be achieved by 2030. Marking World Teachers’ Day, UNESCO observed that around the globe, many teachers work in unsafe environments and need higher pay. UNESCO also reported a continuing lack of access to high-quality training and opportunities for professional development, with teachers unable to enjoy academic freedom and professional autonomy.

The 2017 theme for this special day is “teaching in freedom, empowering teachers.” The theme should resonate in this country, where the Philippine Business for Education released the other day a report showing that the performance of teacher education institutions or TEIs has been deteriorating across the archipelago. The private sector-led PBEd based its assessment on the performance of TEIs in the professional licensure examinations since 2009.

The PBEd report showed that since 2009, the average passing rate of graduates of teacher education courses has been a dismal 31 percent. In the licensure exams administered in March this year, only 11 percent passed for elementary level teaching and 26 percent for high school – a substantial drop from the 27 percent and 33 percent passing rates, respectively, in 2009. The dismal performance is registered in at least half of colleges and universities offering teacher education courses nationwide, according to the PBEd.

Many reforms have been undertaken in the past years to improve the quality of education and increase remuneration for teachers especially in public schools. Those figures presented by the PBEd, however, clearly show that there’s still a wide room for improvement. If the teachers themselves lack quality education, training and continuing skills upgrading, the results will show in the services they render to their students.

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