Teachers define our future
My wife is a superb cook (Michelin star rank); she could open a restaurant and would be turning gourmands away. We also have a hardworking maid who could boil rice. Estee started to teach her cooking skills. But then she did something else; she sent her to a cooking school — at 25 Mushroom Kitchen in Alabang. It’s a restaurant that holds cooking classes.
She learned not only the rudiments of cooking, but how to cook various dishes. Each class is about learning not only how to cook a particular dish, but also how to present it attractively. Estee then refined that. Today, we have another chef in the house. That’s what education can do.
Sen. Sonny Angara wants to reduce the retirement age of teachers to 55. I want to increase it to 65. Why waste that lifetime accumulation of knowledge and experience? The average age of dying for Filipinos is 68; a retirement age of 65 allows three years to wither away. Yes, that’s right — wither away. I can say this uncontested, because I’m at an age well past official retirement, and I’m still working — and enjoying it.
Keeping active, involved and challenged is essential to a longer life. By all means, give our teachers the option at 60, but allow them to go on till 65, with a lessened workload and a little more free time.
I certainly agree with Angara’s other bills. A greater allowance for chalk, for instance. But wait a minute, chalk? What century are we living in? Is the Department of Education going to tell me they can’t even afford whiteboards? Are we that deprived of money in the DepEd? If so, that’s something Angara can push for — a higher budget for education.
And spend it on tablets, not books. Give every kid a tablet, with access to a thousand books, not badly prepared and error-filled ones. Block access to games, social media, etc., on those tablets, and make them for educational purposes only.
Let’s get into the modern world; the days of the caveman are long gone. Ask companies to donate tablets and put their name on them. Let them imprint the company name into developing minds. It’s a small price to pay for better learning. There’s a huge subsidiary benefit to this: We develop millions of kids with information technology (IT) skills to enter the workforce in the one area the Philippines has gained a decent foothold in: IT.
We’re hopeless at agriculture, although, as I said last week, that can be and must be improved. We’ve missed the industrial revolution. What manufacturing we’ll get is just the leftover from Vietnam and Thailand. Still worth pursuing, of course, and I’m glad the Department of Trade and Industry is doing that. For the near term, it’s essential to develop more. But for a real vision for the country, IT is the way to go. Information technology is taking over the world, and that is no
exaggeration. Artificial intelligence is the future. It can be the Philippines’ future — if we develop the kids to enter into it as a natural progression.
Sen. Bam Aquino wants to exempt teachers from the withholding tax on their honoraria if they do poll duty. But numerous exemptions are one of the reasons our tax system is in such a mess. It’s a desirable goal, but a better idea, I think, is to raise the honoraria enough to cover the cost of the tax. The impact on government revenues and expenditures is the same.
It’s been shown that a good education reduces crime. Several studies support this. Children are taught the rights and wrongs. But, more importantly, they become educated enough to land a job and not need to steal. Yet cops earn more than teachers. An entry-level cop gets almost P30,000 per month. An entry-level teacher earns one-third less than that—P20,179, I think.
It’s pretty obvious that this is not right. At the very least, teachers’ pay should be on the same level as soldiers’, shouldn’t it? I hope it’s not too late to slot that into the national budget for next year.
Our teachers define the future of our country. Lawmakers should push for the passage of bills that will improve our teachers’ welfare. They deserve more. And let’s recognize them tomorrow — Oct. 5 — World Teachers’ Day, as the wonderful people they are.
But we don’t need a Teachers’ Day or Teachers’ Month; every day should be an occasion to applaud what teachers do, which is to put us where we are today. You can read this column because of a teacher. You have a rewarding job because of a teacher. Your kids will have a life to be proud of, because of a teacher.
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