Crisis of illiteracy (2)
Their mandate is to teach, but on the way to the classroom they get waylaid by so many errands and chores, they end up facing their students with weakened energies and withered time.
Our public school teachers are arguably the most burdened public servants in our country. On their shoulders rest the gargantuan responsibility of delivering quality education. On those same shoulders rest the gigantic responsibility of providing remedies for the inadequacies and ineptitude of our government. These were my additional impressions when I participated in an education summit sponsored by the municipality of Alcala, Cagayan, in northeastern Luzon last Jan. 18.
There’s a “No Child Left Behind” policy in our public schools that’s being implemented in a distorted way, resulting in a dumbing down in the quality of education in our public schools. Teachers view this policy as a marching order for them to exert every effort to make all students pass, which is a laudable policy by itself. The policy gets twisted, however, when it makes teachers feel that they are entirely to be blamed when students fail. As a result, teachers make all their students pass regardless of how unqualified they are to be promoted to the next level. This is being blamed as the reason for students who are assessed as “nonreaders” but who have shockingly reached Grade 6.
Entirely blaming teachers for the failure of their students amounts to wrongly faulting them for the variety of reasons why students flunk—the negligence of parents, financial hardships, inadequate government support for education, unsuitable social influences, and the child’s physical and mental challenges.
There’s no written circular that says “Teachers will be blamed for the failure of their students,” but fear is nonetheless instilled in the hearts of teachers, because their prospects for promotion and their entitlement to bonuses are ruined if they have students who fail. The Department of Education (DepEd) must meticulously evaluate and recalibrate its “No Child Left Behind” policy, because in its present form and practice, it’s causing the quality of public education to plummet into dismal depths of mediocrity.
The DepEd must also reassess the many administrative duties demanded from teachers, which take away so much of the time and energy they should be spending in the classroom. Teachers complain of the following: the plentiful reports they periodically have to submit to the DepEd; the repetitive requirement of writing lesson plans every year; the cumbersome effort to prepare teaching aids; the auxiliary duty of managing the school canteen, and; the responsibility to do home visits for delinquent and failing students.
The laudable pledge made by Alcala municipal officials to look into the possibility of the local government providing support staff who will help teachers in their administrative duties—the preparation of DepEd reports and creation of teaching aids, for instance—should be emulated by other municipalities that are thinking of ways to support their local schools. But the DepEd must also review the debilitating toll of its reportorial requirements on the ability of teachers to perform their core duty—to teach. I don’t get the logic of requiring teachers to repetitively write lesson plans every year. Why can’t the DepEd just allow teachers to use teaching guide books, like books provided to students?
I am a product of the public school system from kindergarten and elementary to high school and university. My mother was a public elementary teacher for 35 years. My wife and I wish that our son will attend the public school system. I have both sentimental reasons and aspirational interest to root for quality education in our public schools.
The treasured advantage of our public schools is that they bestow on children invaluable character attributes like a gritty attitude, a grounded outlook, emotional stability, and vital life skills. These advantages are for naught if they leave the portals of public schools severely handicapped in their academic skills.
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