OCTOBER 5 was World Teachers’ Day, and social media was filled with greetings and anecdotes of the experience of teaching and learning from teachers.
I had an experience of being a lecturer to high school students recently, and for just two hours, I really felt how tough it was to be a teacher.
It was my first journalism lecture to student publication writers from junior to senior high, and they threw in three elementary writers. When I started with a “good afternoon”, I got silence and chatter as a response. They were not even looking at me. There, I felt dread. Is this really happening?
There I was, trying to get their attention, trying to simplify things, getting them to discuss and 20 minutes into this my throat was feeling hoarse. There I realized how teachers faced these little terrors for six to eight hours every day, who have their attention on other things than the books and the lecture.
An advice from my teacher-friend saved me. “You have to be creative,” she said. “Kids nowadays don’t listen much to lectures. Let them do group work. You’ll be surprised.”
That group work indeed turned out well. When you want to teach journalism, you try to gauge how aware are they about the issues in their school and society. I was impressed how they articulated the local issues such as the failure of the school to deliver their PE uniform, broken down facilities and their classmates’ public display of affection. They are aware of Martial Law and the war on drugs. But the problem is the limited opportunity for them to read. When I ask if they read newspapers, they don’t. In this digital age, Facebook and free data rule. We have to dread the rule of fake news.
I share a point raised by a teacher and musical artist Cabring Cabrera who said education is key to make young people critical, to be able to fight fake news by being open-minded and aware of issues.
But that points to the problem with our DepEd that is pushing for K to 12 yet forget to put the money and values of education into molding the young people. DepEd is underspending 16 billion pesos on 2015, and another P21.5 B last year, you have to wonder why this money was not spent to provide more textbooks, educational materials or facilities. The ACT Teachers dread that these unused funds will just go back to the National Treasury or to the PDAF and that goes straight to the politicos’ "pet projects."
Teachers are also getting a meager salary increase by a mere P500 a month, while soldiers’ salaries are getting doubled from P14,000 to P28,000. What does this day about our government’s priority?
DepEd also fails to support Lumad education. Right now there are hundreds of Lumad schools ran by NGOs and churches in Mindanao with teachers sacrificing a lot in fighting illiteracy among thousands of Lumad children, yet the DepEd fails to totally support these schools which are being attacked by paramilitaries and soldiers.
For these reasons, it is worth saluting the teachers for their sacrifice and service and it is also worth supporting their cause to have higher subsidy for education to empower our next generation.