TODAY I had my last meeting with my graduate school students in Cadiz City. Thanks to Governor Marañon for his invaluable and enriching program called Project Free in partnerships with the University of Saint La Salle (USLS) and the Department of Education (DepEd). Such project is much appreciated by our public school teachers who wish to pursue their masters and doctorate degrees. I hope the incoming Governor-elect Bong Lacson will continue this worthy project. Based on my students’ reflections and wishes, they really are grateful for the opportunity given to them. They have become more confident, wiser, and happier teachers. They all hope the same for their colleagues who also wish to enroll in such program. REALLY? I believe so.
I strongly believe that the bright future of our 21st century learners in the Province of Negros Occidental (and those belonging to other provinces) depends on the kind of teachers that we have. The more equipped, confident, wiser and happier teachers we have, the more they will also become confident, wiser and happier learners. The more public school teachers model confidence, wisdom and happiness the more the 21st century learners will grow and become confident, wiser and happier Negrosanons.
In the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Article XIV, Sections 1, it is stated that, “The state shall protect and promote the right of all the citizens to quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.” What else can we do best in the promotion of such right to a quality education than promoting the quality of our teachers in terms of the levels of their confidence, competence and happiness (affective domain), the levels of their intelligence, understanding and mastery of their respective subject matters (cognitive domain), the levels of their skills, strategies and methods in teaching (psychomotor domain).
Moreover, enhancing and promoting the quality of our teachers would REALLY support what is stated in our Constitution, Art. XIV, Section 5 (#4), “The State shall enhance the right of teachers to professional advancement. Non- teaching academic and non-academic personnel shall enjoy the protection of the State.” Logically speaking, how can we expect our learners to become advanced professionals if their teachers are not that professionally advanced?
Furthermore, talking about the rights of students in school (Section 9), it is highlighted that our students have “(1.) The right to receive competent instruction, relevant quality education.” Again, how can we expect our students to receive competent instruction and relevant quality education if our teachers themselves are not REALLY that competent and quality educators? During this summer break, I am fully aware that our public school teachers are going to have their In-Service Trainings and Seminars. I believe that such practice does help our teachers but nothing compares to their having gone through a graduate school formal studies for masters and doctoral degrees.
It is maybe true that some teachers pursue post graduate studies because they wish to be promoted to a higher position (like from Teacher 3 to a Principal or Supervisor) which implies higher salary grade and so a higher financial compensation. But is that all they have in mind? REALLY? I do not think so. In fact, I have heard many of them said that they pursue higher educational level not only for themselves but for their students’ sake. These are the teachers who are strongly convinced that their teaching job is not simply a profession but, REALLY, it’s their vocation or calling. These are the teachers who look beyond the 15th & 30th days of the month (wherein they receive their salaries). These are the teachers who are most willing to walk the extra mile for the sake of the students entrusted to their care. These are the teachers whom we may call authentic “Second Parents”. These are the teachers who are REALLY worthy to be praised and whose salaries must be raised (by Mr. Rodrigo Duterte before his term as the President of the Republic of the Philippines ends).