Restoring professional pride in teaching
We must restore the dignity of the teaching profession to prevent the K-to-12 program from going the way of other reform efforts, former University of the Philippines president Francisco “Dodong” Nemenzo wrote in 2012. By this, he meant, first, raising the salaries of teachers at the level of other professions, and second, refocusing the curricula of teacher education institutions on subject matter content.
Nemenzo recalled his student days in UP when teachers in public schools were better than those in the private schools. Although teaching was never remunerative, it enjoyed professional pride. ”Kaya ang pinakamagaling naming mga kaklase ay gáling sa public high schools,” he recounted. “Ang mga student leaders, Collegian editors, at honor graduates kadalasan produkto ng public high schools. Hindi na ganito ngayon.”
According to Nemenzo, aside from leveling the gap between teaching and other professions, we should also upgrade the normal schools and colleges of education, noting that the quality of these schools is much wanting as evidenced by the “pathetic” levels of education degree holders taking graduate courses in UP who “seemed to have mastered the techniques of teaching but not the subjects they are supposed to teach.”
These observations are borne out by numerous studies. Starting in 2012, the Department of Education (DepEd) conducted English proficiency and process skills tests (in science and math) among elementary teachers nationwide. Test results showed a substantial number of them scoring mean percentages below 50 percent. Similar findings were submitted by the 2014 World Bank- and Australian Aid-funded Philippine Public Expenditure Tracking Survey and Quantity Service Delivery Study and by the 2016 Teacher Development Needs Study. Grade 6, 8, and 10 teachers across four subjects displayed poor subject matter knowledge and low skills in analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, raising serious doubts on their preparedness to deliver the K-to-12 curriculum.
There is widespread consensus that producing quality teachers starts with programs offered by teacher education institutions. This process can best be undertaken effectively through the application of an official set of standards such as the Philippine Professional Standards for Teachers (PPST), approved by the DepEd in 2017. The indicators of the PPST identify what achievements need to be met by beginning teachers as a minimum basis for entry into the teaching profession.
The PPST, with its four career stages, is organized to underpin a whole-of-career approach to teaching by explicitly linking professional standards to teacher education, teacher induction, and career-long professional learning. The DepEd, through a transformed National Educators Academy of the Philippines, is making a serious commitment to improving beginning teacher support through the Teacher Induction Program and experienced teacher professional development.
The tri-focal setup of our education system has prevented our education agencies and stakeholders from working together to address teacher quality concerns. Doubts linger on whether curricular guidelines for pre-service teacher education issued by the Commission on Higher Education meet the minimum standards for beginning teachers written by the DepEd into the PPST. We need to create by law a strengthened Teacher Education Council whose core function would be to determine the substance and outcome of teacher education courses. It is time to raise the dignity of our teaching profession and provide quality education to the nation.
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Magtanggol T. Gunigundo I ([email protected]) is a former congressman from the second district of Valenzuela City and one of the principal authors of Republic Act No. 10533.
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