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Author Topic: The Quixotic Quest for Good Teachers  (Read 2828 times)
Joe Carillo
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« on: June 13, 2009, 03:17:05 PM »

Public-school teachers are comparatively the most productive professionals a nation can have on a continuing basis. In a whole lifetime of teaching, where a teacher handles, say, five sections of 60 pupils each every school year during a 40-year career span, she helps educate something like 12,000 pupils and nudges them a grade or year closer to becoming productive professionals themselves. Of course, nine other teachers have to work with her to achieve that, so the country’s current public teaching force of 327,000, if just trained and motivated to do a superb job, can assure this country of something like 98,100,000 capable high school graduates every 10-year cycle and a total of 392,400,000 graduates within the teacher’s 40-year career span—more than enough to replace all of the undesirable products of the previous half century’s half-baked and largely misdirected teaching.

This visionary mathematics for the public school system performing at peak efficiency is probably too fancy, too idealistic, and too incendiary, and those with only a piddling understanding of mathematics really should not fret if they don’t get it. But the numbers are probably reasonably accurate and for real. They are as real as the fact that in a longer career span of probably 50 or 55 years, a good number of lawyers—the most glamorized and usually the most lucrative-earning professionals of all—probably will litigate only a few hundred cases that only serve to keep moneyed criminals and organized deceivers out of jail, work out schemes for maybe a dozen corporations to do gray-area or outright unethical things legally, or legislate laws that often only get our law enforcers in a perfect bind (like those that prevent them from evicting professional squatters without giving them a relocation site). As to the medical doctor and the dentist and the engineer and the accountant and the journalist, it’s probably prudent to keep them out of this productivity equation. We may not avail of their services very often or deal with them directly, but when we do, they sure can alleviate suffering and give us comfort and reliable information—thus giving us peace of mind and helping make our lives demonstrably better.

But before we hear again that righteous platitude about all professions being equally honorable (as if professional con artists and professional pyramiders and Ponzi schemers could be honorable), let’s go back to the baseline data about this country’s public school system. The Philippines, as already mentioned, currently has something like 327,000 elementary school teachers, with more than 80 percent of the country’s Department of Education budget of 106.5 billion Philippine pesos (US$2 billion) going to their salaries. And, in what seems to be a jolting surprise, a recent World Bank report says that Philippine public school teachers are among the best compensated in the world.

Based on gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, according to the World Bank report, the starting salaries of Filipino teachers were much higher compared to those of most Asian, Latin American, and even some European Community countries. They were higher than Korea’s and matched only by Jordan’s. But then we should be very careful about these worldwide macro level comparisons. Too many inter-nation adjustments are brought to bear on their computations as to render them meaningless in real domestic terms.

Viewed more realistically at the micro level, the compensation for Philippine public school teachers boils down to a starting salary of about 11,000 Philippine pesos (US$208) a month.* This is lower than what a salaried janitor gets in the better-paying government corporations or private companies. The even more shocking downside is that this entry-level salary for teachers stays practically at that level even after 15 years of service. In high-teacher-salary countries like Korea and Jordan, those entry-level salaries almost get doubled after 15 years by performance incentives and regular salary increases. In contrast, for the backbreaking job the Philippine public teacher puts in, the system provides her absolutely no incentives or rewards at all. It plays a blind eye to the need to motivate her to teach well and to keep her in the profession. Worse, the World Bank study found, the Philippine public school system–in an unbelievable act of illogic–keeps the salary scales the same for both primary and secondary teachers even if the work and the required qualifications vastly differ. Indeed, after more than a century, the Philippine public education system is thus still ridiculously muddling through in managing its most important development resource.

So, if we need better proof of why the teaching profession cannot attract the best and the brightest of the land, look no further. If we need better proof of why students would rather become lawyers in a nation already perilously awash with lawyers, or would rather lead lonely lives abroad working as machine-room engineers and nurses and physical therapists and housemaids, or would rather work as card dealers in the world’s casinos or as boilermen in the darkest recesses of ocean-going ships, it is this. If we need the smoking gun for why this country will forever be engaged in a quixotic quest for good teachers, and why it will forever be gripped by a vicious cycle of national incompetence and illogic and superstition, it is this. (July 14, 2003)

From the weekly column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in The Manila Times, July 14, 2003 issue © 2003 by The Manila Times. All rights reserved.

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*I was initially worried that the 2003 salary figures here for public school teachers would have grown so substantially today as to render this column obsolete. As I indicated in the introductory essay to this column, though, the salary level of public teachers has hardly changed all these years, making my observations in this column still essentially accurate and as relevant as ever.

What do you think of my ideas in this essay? Click the Reply button to post your thoughts on Jose Carillo’s English Forum.

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madgirl09
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« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2009, 10:44:02 PM »

How about teacher training institutions? They may have set the lowest grade averages in college admission requirements capturing mostly those who have no choices but to take up teaching. I believe in teaching as one of the noblest professions, but our government as well as many institutions do not regard it as such. When there are lots of attractive scholarships offered to law, science and medical students, only a handful consider teacher aspirants a good investment.

Re-educate our teachers, push them back to school and further studies under various scholarships. Teaching skills can't be learned overnight, and just the four years of college education is not enough to fully acquire the best skills that would mold similarly-efficient graduates. "Once a teacher, always a student", so they say. Schools must be a new stage in the continuing training of teachers; I wonder what administrative heads do instead of creating mentors perform their tasks everyday to everyone's expectations. Oftentimes, teachers are torn between quantity and quality as well, with so many topics to achieve at the end of the semester, and so numerous duties including manning the public election activities, very little is done to refining the skills of the students. There is very little time left for the poor teacher to improve himself and discover even his own weaknesses.

Teachers are just one of the many workers in the society, but because they appear so much in the lives of the total citizenry, it is so easy to hurl the bulk of the blame on them. Consider economic status as another factor in the over-all education and intellectual capacities of students. Our citizens are starving...Feed them so they could mentally digest whatever is offered by the "facilitators" in schools.
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Joe Carillo
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2009, 08:54:39 PM »

Teacher training institutions can improve the overall quality of teaching in this country, but only by so much. I think the bigger problem is the quality of the human resource that’s now in the teaching profession and that continues to be infused into it. I believe that for teachers to effectively perform their role of educating the citizenry and to become highly regarded professionals themselves, a much higher bar must be set for those desiring to become teachers; obviously, the compensation and rewards for those who pursue teaching as a career must be dramatically improved as well. This, however, would need a revolutionary paradigm shift for the professions in our society, such that teaching gets a fair chance of becoming the career of first choice of the country’s best and brightest instead of careers that are often dependent on rent-seeking and patronage (politicians, lawyers, civil servants) or those that provide services catering largely to the self-interest of an influential or moneyed few (lawyers, tax accountants, cosmetic surgeons).

Is this dream scenario for the teaching profession doable? I think so, but it will obviously require strong political will over the long term on the part of our government and of society as whole.
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renzphotography
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2009, 10:52:16 PM »

Dear Mr. Carillo, it would help a lot if you could post the link of that World Bank report so we can examine it. In the study of economics we encounter a the concept of spending power and cost of living. I will get to the point and spare you from the lecture (anyway the concepts are quite self-explanatory).

We all know that the cost of living in Metro Manila is higher than in the provinces. Simply put, people pay more for food, rent, utilities, and other goods and services in Metro Manila--therefore we say the cost of living is lower in the provinces.

I'm sure there is a provincial rate and a Metro Manila rate for teacher salary (correct me if I'm wrong). In any case, think about it P11,000 is a meager amount to live by in Metro Manila but that same amount is enough to set you living like a king in the provinces because the spending power of our currency is higher in provincial areas.

I don't want to sound like I'm patronizing the school system already that is why it would help a lot if we could examine the World Bank report.

The problem is good facilities and better compensation will not result in better teachers (perhaps more motivated at most). The art and science of teaching points to many factors that affect the quality of teaching.

I can't help remembering a scene in Noli Me Tangere where Crisostomo Ibarra approached Padre Damaso for funds to build a school. In reply,  Padre Damaso pointed out that during the time of Plato and Aristotle fine wisdom was imparted under the shade of trees and nothing more.

Our teacher explained to us that that scene shows Spanish insensitivity. However, if we consider the discussion in this forum, indeed, more than anything else well trained teachers are the key to the  improvement of Philippine public elementary and high school education.


« Last Edit: September 20, 2009, 06:48:20 PM by renzphotography » Logged
Joe Carillo
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« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2009, 01:55:22 PM »


Dear Mr. Carillo, it would help a lot if you could post the link of that World Bank report so we can examine it. In the study of economics we encounter a the concept of spending power and cost of living. I will get to the point and spare you from the lecture (anyway the concepts are quite self-explanatory).


Sorry, I wrote that essay way back in July 2003 and I could no longer find my primary source for that World Bank report in my computer files; the file must have been lost when I purged my hard disk a few years back.

Anyway, I found a summary of that same World Bank report as part of an update request dated December 26, 2006 that appears in an online Philippine government forum. You can check it out by clicking this link.The query actually cites the link to that World Bank report but the webpage is no longer available.

For a better perspective, you may also find useful the UNESCO’s 2008 country profile of the Philippine secondary education regional information base. Simply click this link.


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renzphotography
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« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2009, 02:36:03 PM »

Thanks for the links dear moderator. The figures are fantastic and they are quite updated.

As of 2006, the starting salary of high school teachers (even in the provinces) is P196,689 per year and could go up to as high as P320,974 per year depending on the qualifications.

Since the figures combine both private and public teacher compensation then let us assume that public teachers get the lowest figure. If computed based on 13-months (including Christmas bonus) this means the gross monthly salary is from P15,130 to P24,690.

The figure isn't bad especially if you get to spend the amount in provinces where you can rent a two-bedroom house for P2,500 or lower.

Unfortunately, we do not have the grade school and primary school salary rates in the World Bank study featured in the link.

However, the study is one thing but actual experience is another so if there are public school teachers out there who say contrary please enlighten us.


« Last Edit: September 23, 2009, 02:19:00 PM by renzphotography » Logged
renzphotography
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« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2009, 09:22:58 AM »


This link shows the current and the proposed salary increase of Filipino public school teachers.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=511640&publicationSubCategoryId=63

According to the article public school teachers could earn as much as P26,000 a month once the proposal is approved. Well now, if this is not motivating enough then I don't know what is. The big question now is will these teachers deliver the results we are looking for?
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madgirl09
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« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2009, 07:51:12 AM »

many of the non-tenured teachers in the provinces earn as little as 6,000 to 8,000 pesos. this eventually increases to 12,000 pesos when a permanent item becomes available (when somebody retires). this is one system that exploits young teachers despite their passing the board exam. due to government limited education budget, the government classifies the non-tenured as temporary workers, but requires them to work fulltime for a meager pay. my sister, despite her masters units, receives less than 10,000 pesos while waiting for a permanent teacher to retire in this class 4 municipality in pangasinan.

there are some schools in farflung areas in the provinces in need of teachers, but many young and tenured teachers do not consider the rugged terrains attractive. for this reason, some private associations and special municipal funds are tapped to increase the salaries for remote schools; teachers there, who, after hiking for two hours (each way) to school, still receive just about 16,000 pesos. one time, one of the 4 teachers in this elementary school asked me to donate an old TV set just to show the children some "props", or get some ideas what a real TV looks like. Cry. it turned out, nobody wants a 100v tv set from japan. the town office is now working for the installation of electricity to this small village. once there's power, i would surely donate a "props" computer  Wink

but renz, why is it that i still envy my sister who's receiving just 6,000 pesos a month? when i receive monthly about the annual pay of any urban teacher in the philippines, i still could not afford to hire nannies and housemaids to help me with the daily chores. my sister is quite happy with a nanny and a cook to pamper her kids with care, while she enjoys her life socializing after school  Embarrassed...(ahhh, it's unfair!  Angry) (...and i can't even afford to buy an anti-aging cream regularly  Sad  )
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