[OPINION] A teacher’s plight: The problem in our educational system

Robinson Valenzona
[OPINION] A teacher’s plight: The problem in our educational system
'As much as we want to give quality education to our students, we also want to give quality living to our family, which our humble income cannot afford'

It was just another humid day, my uniform soaked in sweat, a week’s worth of students’ files on my table. Our room was not fully air-conditioned or ventilated, which made us perspire a lot.

Herds of students were outside for their break time. I looked around the room to assess if my co-teachers were also feeling what I felt deep inside me, but it seemed that they had become robots numb and ignorant to the real issues. 

Although it was break time, we still had to deal with the inquiries of our students. We did not have enough time to rest, to be fully recharged for our next class. 

Then the clincher: We were told to take our things and evacuate the faculty rooms because they were going to be converted into a journalism training office, school-based management office, guidance office, learning resource management and development office, and sports and arts office.

There would no longer be faculty rooms for specific strands or tracks occupied by teachers. The school suggested that we just stay in our own home classrooms. However, the arrangement was not ideal in a senior high school setting, since there would be other subject teachers coming in to teach in my classroom, so my being there could rob them of privacy and academic freedom.

I am not complaining. In the two years that I have been teaching, I know that we, as teachers, should cater to the needs of our students and obey orders from above. But lately, I have been thinking if the Department of Education (DepEd) really treats the teachers as first-class citizens, because we always feel otherwise. (READ: ‘More Teacher Maricels needed’ says alliance standing against intimidation)

I was finally able to sit alone for a while after entertaining my students’ concerns. I browsed the latest news on my cellphone. I saw reports on how DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said that teachers should reflect on teaching as a passion, and not a profession to gain more money.

I am not against that. But realistically, we all need to survive to sustain our passion. Based on the salary that we receive as educators, is it really enough to survive? (READ: [OPINION] A teacher’s voice)

I hope everyone realizes how hard it is to be a teacher in a country that claims to treat us well. If you look closely, we are not really enjoying the same privileges as first-class citizens. (READ: I am a teacher)

Some would say that the government already provided us the kind of income that could support us economically. But if you sit down and make computations, you will see that it is not enough, especially if we have a family to support, and given the fact that the prices of commodities in the market are skyrocketing. (READ: FAST FACTS: What you need to know about the PH education system)

As much as we want to give quality education to our students, we also want to give quality living to our family, which our humble income cannot afford. 

Our meager income from teaching does not go directly into our pockets, either. Some of it is allotted for classroom beautification. We even use our own money to help our students who are struggling financially. We also give contributions for school activities.

Isn’t it necessary for the government to provide us better services since we are serving our country? Right now, the government only gives us discounts when we avail of their health services. Most of the time,  if we need health care, we pay bills that are triple our salary. (READ: Teaching: A labor of love)

Plus, does the government even acknowledge all the real tasks assigned to teachers? We are also doing the jobs of other agencies. Whenever certain government offices need assistance for their programs and projects for students, the tasks are given to us so that they have something to write in their reports.

Worse, we are the first to be blamed whenever our students do not learn properly, despite that fact that we monitor more than 300 students a day. We usually face administrative and even criminal liabilities because of mistakes we did not make, without even acknowledging our side, that fact that we are only human beings deserving of second chances.

As we witness the number of teachers seeking greener pastures in other countries, may we realize that there is a problem in our educational system. The future lies in great educators, but these great educators may already be teaching abroad, or worse, doing menial jobs such as washing dishes – a job that actually lets them earn quadruple their salary in the Philippines.

It was just another humid day. My uniform was already soaked in sweat, but it reminded me to hold on, to perspire more, and to believe that someday the situation of teachers here in our country would finally change. – Rappler.com

Robinson Valenzona, 25, is a senior high school teacher from Muñoz National High School-Main, Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.