Teachers in the Philippines are generally renowned for two things: hard work and passion. Many of our teachers are quite industrious because they spend five days (or six) a week in school, even if we are all undergoing distance learning modalities these days. Apart from hard work, many of our teachers feel that their passion is ignited whenever they are engaged in interacting with their students, especially in person.
Despite our teachers’ extended and expended efforts to make our learners’ academic experiences as convenient and enjoyable as possible, our teachers still suffer in the end. Even during the eras of most of our past education secretaries (ministers from mid-June 1978 to early 1987), it seems that no one has made great efforts to lessen teachers’ workplace burdens. It was during the time of former Secretary Leonor Briones that teachers became more and more overworked.
Why did I make such a statement that tends to be inflammatory at the most?
Speaking from both first-hand and vicarious experience, I admit that I have gone through so much tears, fears, and jeers from naysayers, particularly ornery students and their condoning students, holier-than-thou administrators, and self-righteous colleagues who think that they are above the world and close to the stars. I have also gone through the usual one-semester stints at universities and thus have developed resentment against their policies. Instead of harboring self-pity, I have decided to fight back by being an educational reform advocate and a media practitioner, which I have been for seven years and will remain so until I breathe my last (even at 150+ years old, I fervently hope).
What, then, are the lingering issues that continue to impede our teachers’ professional, personal, and financial development?
One pervasive issue is work overload. Many public school teachers in the basic education level work almost slavishly to the point of exhaustion. Jesus Christ, madre de Dios! There have been many instances in which teachers eventually suffer from chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, fatigue syndrome, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or cancer. Blame it on the stresses created by one’s working environment as well as lofty expectations of superiors and the Department of Education (the Commission on Higher Education is also stress-inducing, but not as abhorrent as its basic education counterpart).
Another pervasive issue that has been lingering is the low pay, which is incommensurate to teachers’ hefty work load. There are many private educational institutions that exploit their teaching faculty by not remitting their social security and housing contributions, as well as the correct taxes. These so-called schools are profit-oriented at the expense of teachers’ financial well-being through decent salaries. As a result, many teachers choose to go abroad or to shift careers altogether. There are also teachers who tend to juggle multiple careers just to make ends meet. Yes, there are those who have failed but there are also multitudes that have been quite successful. Another effect of low pay is that there are teachers who resort to loan sharks, in the form of lending companies, in order that they would be able to meet their needs (although there are some who tend to splurge on wants, and such is another story altogether).
Security of tenure is one contentious issue that hits me so hard. Yes, just like many teachers, I have been a victim of the fixed-term, contract-based policy and practice. I was almost about to be qualified for security of tenure but due to the current pandemic, it never materialized. As a result, I decided to get into business, particularly in the field of training teachers. Personally, I will never condone what a majority of schools are doing to their teachers, especially the novice ones.
An issue that hits so close to home, at least on my part, is the lack of work-life balance. This happens especially in the public school context. Because there are a plethora of activities even beyond school hours and school days, teachers tend to be forced to attend these activities because they have roles in carrying out these activities. As a result, many teachers go home tired, sick in the stomach, and hazy due to the influx of activities. They tend to sacrifice their family life and academic advancement just to honor their professional commitments.
One last issue that continues to linger on is the presence of vulture-like supervisors, envious colleagues, obnoxious and miscreant students, and aggrandizing parents. These types of people are worse than leeches for they suck out not only our teachers’ blood but also their energy, confidence, self-worth, and chances of success. Only God knows when these types of people would be decimated or at least disarmed; but these people must cease their shenanigans lest they happen to be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder or, worse, incurable malevolence, so to speak.
On behalf of all our teachers here, I am 500% confident that our current education secretary, Vice President Sara Duterte, and her team will be instrumental in implementing much-needed reforms especially in academic workplaces. We all hope and pray that our incumbent education honcho will listen to the voices and feel the pulses of our teachers (and our learners) so that she would exercise wise discretion.
As for the future CHED chairperson (whoever you may be), please rise to the occasion and free yourself from vested interests. Read this article and you will know what I mean.
I would like to greet the following teachers, to whom this article is lovingly dedicated (in no particular order): Ms. Debbie Acab, Dr. Sammy Dolba, Ms. Nivelle Dumlao, Ms. Portia Ebol, Mr. Addam Acebuque, Mr. Jardin Estanislao, Ms. Mira Posadas-Agnes, Ms. Maricris Estanislao, Ms. Janice Gagante, Mr. Bobby Ancheta, Ms. Joy Castillo-Pasidis, Mr. Herman Briñas, Mr. Reymundo Ilmeng, Dr. Miren Morales, Dr. Basil Estrope (congratulations to her for earning her Ph.D in Educational Administration recently), Dr. Joey Andrew Lucido Santos, Ms. Anna Malindog-Uy, Dr. Cecille Genuino, Dr. Celi Amarles, Fr. Stephen Redillas, Dr. Florencia Marquez, Dr. Sterling Plata, Dr. Rochelle Lucas, Dr. Shirley Dita, Dr. Aireen Arnuco, Dr. Tina Pariña, Dr. Cecille Ycong, Dr. Al Gatcho, Mr. Jenorie San Agustin, Ms. Eden Conopio, Ms. Rio Molina, Mr. Kevin Angyab, Mr. Ryan dela Torre, Mr. Fevvie Von Asistio, Mr. Marvin Sermonia, Ms. NJ Mercado, Ms. Anabelle Salud, Ms. Jaezamie Ong, Mr. Jade Berosil, Mr. Rey Ilmeng, Ms. Allelie Orogo, Mr. Angelo Ilmeng, Ms. Mec Sanchez-Funa, Mr. Francis Unlayao, Ms. Manilyn Tilde, Mr. Junell Leuterio, Dr. Rizal Vidallo, Ms. Bing Sison, Dr. Lakandupil Garcia, Dr. Mel Bello, Ms. Joanna Carvajal, Dr. Daylin Laput, and many others whom I cannot mention for lack of space (I will mention all others in later articles, I promise you). I love you all!
GUESS WHAT, GUESS WHO!
GUESS WHAT: Being too fastidious, hard to reach as Tibet, and complicated in their processes are the characteristics of this well-known, homegrown non-life insurance company. As revealed by my source in the non-life insurance brokerage industry, the contact persons of the non-life insurance company in question tend to be vague in their answers whenever my source would follow through on policies. In addition, our subject tends to bide its time in processing the needed policies. Santissima Nueva Segovia, my source and his/her colleagues are having a quite difficult time in dealing with the non-life insurer in question.
What are the lessons of the story? Be prompt in processing policies. Be honest in dealing with business partners and clients. Do not dilly-dally especially in cases of emergency. Be a consummate professional, not a devious animal.
GUESS WHO: Who is this security agency who employs dirty and devious tactics in order to conduct business? According to my source, who was a former security guard of the agency, the agency issues fake permits for their guards’ official firearms instead of processing these legitimately at Camp Crame. Apart from that, the agency in question treats its security guards like horses because the guards are overworked yet underpaid. In fairness to my source, s/he is now working for another agency that treats them humanely and fairly.
What are the lessons of the story? Treat your security guards with respect and dignity. Do not circumvent the law. Be fair in paying your employees. Never ever put your employees in grave danger.
If you have suggestions in terms of the education-related topics that you want me to feature, please feel free to send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com and I will reply to you as soon as I receive your email. You may also message me on Facebook through any of my two working accounts: Jet Ramos (personal) and CoachJet Ramos (new and publicly official). You may also view my inspirational videos through my official YouTube account (my comeback will be later in June): Coach Jet’s Weekday Inspirations.