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Let teachers do their job

04:03 AM November 26, 2019

When I was in Grade 1, my teacher once scolded me and hit my hands using a metal ruler, because I entered the classroom without cleaning and trimming my nails. I felt embarrassed and scared. From then on, I told my mother to trim my nails every Sunday, because I did not want the incident to happen again.

Did I hate my teacher for what she did? No, because I knew that my teacher only wanted us to be hygienic and clean in our habits.

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Another incident happened when I was in Grade 5. Our teacher punished my classmates by twisting their ears for not doing the assignment. But none of my classmates brought their parents over to complain; in their hearts, they knew it was their fault.

A parent and grandmother recently went on Raffy Tulfo’s radio program to complain about a teacher who allegedly abused their child (video of the episode was then uploaded on YouTube).

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CCTV footage was presented showing teacher Melita Limjuco supposedly forcing a Grade 2 pupil to sit outside the classroom, as punishment for not bringing his report card. The incident eventually drew the attention of other students and guardians; the grandmother claimed that the situation humiliated her grandson.

When the child’s mother asked what consequence she wanted for the teacher, the mother said: “Naaawa naman po ako kung ipakukulong siya. Magpahinga na lang siya sa kanila. Mawalan siya ng lisensya (It would be a pity if she ends up in jail. She should just take a rest and give up her license).”

The intention of these guardians is undoubtedly good, for they know that teachers must be called out if they use their power to discriminate against, exploit, manipulate or abuse students. This is according to the Department of Education (DepEd) Order No. 40, s. 2012 or the Child Protection Policy of 2012, which mandates a zero-tolerance policy for any act of child abuse, exploitation, violence, discrimination, bullying, and other related offenses.

However, there is one thing that was left behind in this issue, especially as it was given due course on Tulfo’s program: due process.

Tulfo’s program had no business wading into the issue, much less trying to resolve it by having Tulfo as the ultimate judge, because the incident was a school matter that should be settled inside the school. If such a situation is not settled with the school principal, complaints may be filed with the school superintendents in their respective divisions, and so on.

Clearly, in this case, the only thing that the complainants did was to talk to the school principal, and then forthwith make their case public via Tulfo’s program. This case should have been resolved through a closed-door conversation and in confidentiality, and not on a radio show. Tulfo, meanwhile, had no right to give the teacher the option to either give up her profession or face criminal charges.

Discipline starts at home. Many parents blame teachers for not supposedly teaching values to their children, but they cry foul when teachers attempt to discipline students. But shouldn’t values development start at home? Words and gestures such as “thank you,” “excuse me,” “please,” “you’re welcome” and “sorry” — they all should begin at home. The same with honesty, diligence, obedience, punctuality, sympathy and empathy, and most importantly, respect for teachers.

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Teaching is said to be the most noble profession, for there will be no pilots, nurses, doctors, soldiers, scientists, accountants and other professionals without them. They teach and shape hundreds of lives, in this country even without proper compensation even as they deserve to have better salaries.

To my teacher who once scolded me and slapped my dirty hands when I was in Grade 1, thank you for teaching me that a child who lacks discipline has no place in college, and will only go down the path to mediocrity.

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Mike A. Vertudazo, 21, writes for The Defender, the official student publication of Bataan Peninsula State University-Balanga Campus.

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TAGS: Melita Limjuco, Mike A. Vertudazo, Raffy Tulfo, student discipline, Teachers, Young Blood
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