EDITORIAL - Teachers and education transformation

The Philippine Star

Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for educators. In the past two years when many countries went into lockdown to keep out an invisible deadly enemy, among the top concerns was the consequent serious disruption in formal education.

In the Philippines, the government opted for blended education modes in an effort to prevent learners from being left behind, despite the challenges that the approach posed in terms of the required gadgets, connectivity and skills needed by learners and educators alike in virtual classrooms.

Like health frontliners, teachers also risked exposure to the coronavirus as they confronted the challenges of blended learning. Even before COVID vaccines became available, educators went to their schools to put together learning modules and interacted physically with parents and school administrators.

In addition to blended learning, teachers perform other functions, for which they get only modest remuneration. Last May, they were again deputized for poll duty in the general elections.

This school year, with COVID still posing a threat, the Philippines has resumed face-to-face classes at all levels. Full in-person classes begin next month, with no solution in sight for one of the major problems amid the continuing pandemic: the lack of classrooms to accommodate all students while observing physical distancing.

To allow distancing, crowded public schools are holding additional class shifts. This calls for more teachers, however, or longer working hours for educators. Yesterday, the eve of the observance of World Teachers’ Day, thousands of school teachers, lamenting their heavy workload and low pay, called for a salary increase before the House of Representatives. While the House has passed the proposed national budget for 2023, it will still have to go into bicameral conference with the Senate for the final version of the General Appropriations Act.

As the world emerges from the pandemic, child welfare organizations have lamented the adverse impact on formal education of the restrictions imposed to contain COVID, with children from underprivileged households the worst affected. At the same time, educators are assessing which practices from the pandemic lockdowns can be adopted permanently under the post-pandemic normal.

For World Teachers’ Day today, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is focusing on the crucial role played by teachers in the transformation of education. Among the challenges is attracting the brightest young minds to pursue a career in teaching. This can be made easier if they can see that those already in the profession are getting proper compensation for their work.


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