Teachers disappointed over Marcos’s plans for education sector

·3 min read
A protester from a teachers' group holds placard during the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand
QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES - JULY 25: Various groups, including teachers, hold a protest during the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of Republic of the Philippine President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr in Quezon City, Philippines on July 25, 2022. (Photo by Dante Diosina Jr/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Teachers’ group the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines has expressed its exasperation over President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s plans, or lack of it, for the education sector as laid down during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday (July 25).

ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro and ACT Philippines Chairperson Vladimer Quetua, in two separate statements, said that they and many other teachers were frustrated over the non-inclusion of the much-delayed salary hike for teachers in the president’s SONA, and other key issues in the sector that needs immediate action.

Lack of concrete plans for physical reopening of schools

Wala tayong narinig na anumang game-changing measure para resolbahin ang krisis sa edukasyon. Parang walang malalang learning crisis,” Quetua said.

(We didn’t hear of any game-changing measure to resolve the education crisis. It seems that they think that there’s no learning crisis at all.)

The progressive teacher said that the lack of the national government’s concrete plans and budget allocation for the safe reopening of classes is a death wish for both students and teachers.

Ang kaligtasan ng mga bata, iniaasa sa kulang na bakuna. Ang kulang na klasrum, iniaasa sa local government units (LGU). Ang learning loss, iniaasa sa refresher course sa mga guro. These are all insufficient and shallow measures that does not tackle the crisis head on,” Quetua said.

(The safety of students is being relied on to a vaccine whose supply isn't even enough. Local government units are made to shoulder the problem of classroom shortage. Their solution for learning loss is a refresher course.)

Rep. Castro said that the national government must shoulder the responsibility of resolving the classroom shortage, because passing it on to the LGUs will put low-income LGUs at a disadvantage as they may not have enough budget for infrastructure and facilities upgrade in public schools.

English as medium of instruction in schools

The teacher-solon also criticized Marcos’s seeming obsession of using English as the primary medium of instruction in schools.

In his hour and 14 minutes long speech, Marcos said that the Philippines has always been favored by employers because of our strong command of the English language, and “this is an advantage we must continue to enjoy.”

“Therefore, the question of our medium of instruction must be continuously reexamined to maintain that advantage that we have established as an English-speaking people,” Marcos said.

Castro said that numerous studies have already shown that for effective learning, early learners must be taught using their first language or mother tongue.

Meanwhile, Quetua said that using English to teach critical subjects such as Science and Mathematics will not improve the students’ learning skills, and will just produce the same results as before.

“The quality of education would further deteriorate and learners would not understand their lessons if the supposed K to 12 review focuses on the push for English as the main medium of instruction,” Quetua said.

‘Needs a lot of improvement’

Sa lahat ng mga danas ng mga guro, tanging refresher course lang ang nabanggit. Tila kinukulangan pa siya [Marcos] sa mga sakripisyo at serbisyo ng mga guro,” said Raymond Basilio, Secretary-General of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines.

(For all the teachers’ sacrifices, only the refresher course was mentioned. It seems the president is still not satisfied with the teachers’ sacrifices and services.)

Basilio also said that the decline in the quality of education in the country is not because of the teachers, but because of the government’s failure to address their needs.

Kung tuluy-tuloy ang paglagpak ng kalidad ng edukasyon sa bansa, di yan dahil sa mga guro, dahil yan sa patuloy na kapabayaan at kapalpakan nyong ibigay ang mga kinakailangan nito!” Basilio added.

(If the quality of education in the country continues to decline, it’s not because of the teachers, but because of the State’s continuous neglect and inability to address the needs of the teachers and learners.)

Quetua said that the grade they would give Marcos for his administration’s plans on the education sector is “needs a lot of improvement,” a notch lower than the lowest grade teachers usually give non-performing students.

Because of this, Castro said that there’s much to be vigilant in the Marcos administration.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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