Exacerbating the teacher shortage

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By Neil Honeyman

An Independent View

Monday, July 7, 2014


WE HAVE somewhat over 500, 000 teachers to educate more than 20 million students who attend our schools. There is still a teacher shortage. In addition, teachers retire or resign. We also need more teachers to cope with growth in student numbers.

It requires more than 50, 000 new teachers annually to avoid increasing the existing teacher shortfall which results in excessive class sizes.

The Department of Education (DepEd) tells us that due to the implementation of the new Education Act (R.A. 10533) there will be no students entering Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) in scholastic years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. This includes those who attend HEIs so as to become qualified teachers. This means that there will be no new teachers who, prior to R.A. 10533, would have graduated from four year courses in 2020 and 2021. Our teacher shortage will have swelled by over 100,000 teachers.

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No students entering HEIs means no work for those who teach them. Already, it is reported, there are two women’s colleges which have offered an early retirement/separation package to all members of the general education faculty. The separation package amounts to fractionally over one month’s salary for each completed year of service

It is regrettable when an employer makes a general offer of early retirement/separation. This is because it is often the most valuable employees who take up the offer because they can obtain other employment, perhaps in other fields, elsewhere.

In the case of HEIs, the reduced requirement for its staff is two years. Unfortunately this is long enough for many HEIs to become bankrupt. Starting up again in June 2018 when the first batch of six-year high school graduates appear may not be possible for HEIs whose financial viability depends on a regular income.

Those who teach aspiring teachers are valuable members of our community. They should be valued. The nonsensical situation where DepEd’s administrative clumsiness will grievously exacerbate the teacher shortage needs to be addressed.

It is time for the Commission of Higher Education (CHEd) to articulate concerns so that the flow of qualified teachers into our schools is maintained.

Teachers and future teachers need to speak out now. If a student has the academic acumen to undertake a four-year course in an HEI, he should be able to do so. This means that a graduate of a four year high school program should not be prevented from doing so by DepEd’s ill-considered red tape.

If a student need six years of high school before he is capable of benefitting from tertiary education, let him take six years.

But do not hold back the academically advantaged student who does not need six years of DepEd’s pedestrian high school curriculum. Let our students flourish by challenging them. They will rise to the challenges and reach the standard necessary to enter teacher training in an HEI after four years.

We shall then avoid the missing two years when our shortage of teachers will reach crisis proportions.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 07, 2014.

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