Young achievers choose to teach in public schools

Although there are lots of problems in the system, the commitment of teachers to their students remain strong

PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS. The first batch of TFP fellows pose for a batch picture after their graduation. Photo by Dindin Reyes

MANILA, Philippines – They’re ready to take on the challenge of changing their students’ lives.

Fifty-three Teach for The Philippines (TFP) fellows graduated from the Summer Institute on Saturday night, June 1, in the Ateneo de Manila University.

The TFP fellows are composed of fresh graduates from top universities, young professionals and Filipino Americans who decided to return to the Philippines. The fellows pledged to teach in different public schools in Quezon City for two years.

Kilo Henares-Chuidan, one of the Filipino American fellows, said that he was excited for his first class. “I’m expecting it to be chaotic but I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. 

Ateneo Graduate School Associate Dean Dr Celeste Gonzalez praised the students for their dedication to the cause of TFP. “You would not have reached this point if not for your hard work and strong convictions in the goals and objectives of Teach for the Philippines,” Celeste said to the new public school teachers.

The fellows underwent intensive trainings and education classes for two months under the Summer Institute. The classes were held in the Ateneo de Manila University since the university’s Education Department was TFP’s key partner.

CHALLENGES AHEAD. DepEd undersecretary Rizalino Rivera challenged the fellows to hold on to their commitments. Photo by Dindin Reyes

Challenging the education system

Department of Education (DepEd) undersecretary for regional operations Rizalino Rivera admitted that there is a lot of work to be done for the Philippine education system.

“The challenges are great but if you don’t take the chance, if you don’t take the risk, if you don’t do something about it then we all better migrate to different countries because we’ve given up,” Rizalino added.

Rizalino maintained that although there are lots of problems in the system, the commitment of teachers to their students remain resolute. “We have a lot of Sabsy Ongkiko’s in DepEd. Our teachers our heroes,” he added.

Rappler’s Maria Ressa was the keynote speaker of the graduation ceremonies. She challenged the fellows to hold true to their visions.

“You made a choice. You signed up for two years to teach in a public school system, in an educational system that’s challenged,” Ressa said.

Ressa shared her experiences with her own teachers. She noted the big role that teachers play in the classroom. “The way you grew up will determine a lot of who you will become…As teachers, you will influence your students’ lives and in effect, their own social networks…That’s a big responsibility,” Ressa added.

RIPPLES OF CHANGE. Rappler CEO Maria Ressa noted that teachers play a vital role in influencing their students' social networks. Photo by Dindin Reyes

According to government data, close to 10 million Filipinos are unemployed or are looking for additional jobs to meet their needs. The decline in the quality of education is a major reason behind the numbers, not to mention the mismatch between skills taught to students and the jobs available is a major reason behind the numbers.

Choosing the Philippines

Teach for All Chief Executive Officer and Teach for America co-founder Wendy Kopp earlier addressed TFP’s first batch of graduates.

“Ultimately, we want each of the teachers to ask themselves what they personally are going to do to address the problem that they saw first-hand in their classrooms…So that’s the idea that each of them can ask how they can make the greatest possible impact on the problem,” Kopp maintained.

The fellows will teach Heograpiya, Kasaysayan at Sibika (Geography, History and Civics), Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (Good Manners and Right Conduct), Mathematics, English, FIlipino and Science subjects. They will also assist in administrative duties in their respective schools.

They will begin teaching on Monday, June 3, as classes for public schools open nationwide. – With reports from Dindin Reyes/Rappler.com