Author Topic: Current private sector initiatives to upgrade Filipino teacher quality  (Read 14791 times)

Joe Carillo

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Current private sector initiatives to upgrade Filipino teacher quality

Last Tuesday in the Forum, I made a retrospective of an essay that I wrote for my English-usage column in The Manila Times in 2003. That essay, “The Quixotic Quest for Good Teachers,” appeared in the Forum for the first time six years later on June 13, 2009, being among the very first essays to be posted on my English-usage website when I created it that year.


“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.” – The Quixotic Quest for Good Teachers (2003)

During the past 16 years, I have strongly focused on English usage in my columns and later also in the Forum, so I have admittedly not kept a very close watch of initiatives taken by the Philippine education sector in the interim—that is, until I stumbled serendipitously on the digital file of that old essay of mine a week ago and decided to do a retrospective of it in the Forum last August 22.

At any rate, since I bewailed in that 2003 essay what I felt was the abject inability of the teaching profession to attract the best and the brightest of the land, what I wanted to immediately find out was this: Have there been any developments in Philippine education that have notably improved and at least brightened up the situation?

There are two such major developments that are certainly worthwhile taking up in detail here in the Forum.

The first is the founding in 2006 of the nonprofit advocacy group Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) by the country’s top CEOs as the business sector’s response to the country’s  need for greater education and economy alignment.

The second is the PBEd’s implementation in 2017 of its Scholarships in Teacher Education Program to Upgrade Teacher Quality in the Philippines—STEP UP is its acronym—that aims to produce 1,000 high quality teachers who will be ready for public school employment by 2019. This program is being undertaken by PBEd in partnership with the Australian Government, which is funding it with a grant, and the Philippine Department of Education.

Philippine Business for Education (PBEd)


The PBEd has a three-pronged vision of enabling all Filipinos to have access to an education system that provides them with the needed competencies and values to lead productive lives and successful careers, while serving as good citizens of this nation.

1. Workforce development. “We engage industry, academe, and government to equip graduates with competencies needed to succeed in the global economy. We work to encourage greater industry investment in standard setting, training and labor market intelligence.”

2. Teacher quality improvement. “We advocate for improved and innovative teacher development systems at the pre-service level. Through scholarship grants, we seek to attract the best and the brightest to join the teaching profession.”

3. Education governance. “We believe that, with K to 12 in place, the success of basic education now lies in effective and efficient governance structures. We facilitate dialogue among key stakeholders to ensure that further policy reforms involve people on the ground and reach learners in relevant and sustainable ways.”

Since its founding in 2006, PBEd has conducted annual assessments of the Philippine educational system to ensure that it provides quality learning in the context of global economy. PBEd chair Ramon del Rosario, in a press briefing on June 13, 2018, reported that the state of education nationwide has progressed in terms of accessibility but still has a long way to go when it comes to delivery of quality learning for the success of every learner.

“We have not done so well in some aspects of education—ensuring, in particular, that learning happens in the classroom and that graduates are job ready,” he said.

For more about the PBEd, click this link.

Scholarships in Teacher Education Program to Upgrade Teacher Quality (STEP UP)

The STEP UP scholarship campaign seeks to attract good-performing college graduates and professionals into the teaching profession by offering them competitive scholarship packages. A total of 1,000 scholarships will be awarded to deserving candidates between the years of 2015 to 2019. The goal of the program is to produce 1,000 high quality teachers ready for public school employment by 2019.

The STEP UP program has eight partner schools: Ateneo de Naga University, Cebu Normal University, Mariano Marcos State University, Philippine Normal University, University of Santo Tomas, University of South Eastern Philippines, West Visayas State University, and Xavier University.

As of July 18, 2018, STEP UP had 1,294 scholars and 961 graduates with 99.5% passing rate in the teachers board examinations.

Rolled out in 2017, this Certificate in Teaching Program offers to students who qualify for admission P140,000 worth of scholarship benefits annually. The scholarship package is composed of free tuition, P4,000 monthly stipend, and P2,000 monthly dormitory allowance. Other benefits include graduation and miscellaneous fees, one-time relocation allowance, uniform allowance for every semester, practice teaching allowance, one-time return allowance, semestral book allowance, basic health assistance, professional mentoring, and Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) review assistance.

To qualify for the program, applicants must be graduates of any Bachelor’s degree except BS Education (preferably BS Math, Medical Sciences, Literature, Social Studies, and other related courses); with at least a general weighted average of 85 per cent in college; and with a teaching experience in a public school for at least three years. They must pass the LET and must not drop subjects while taking the program.

To apply for the STEP UP Philippines scholarship, click this link.


Four PBEd scholars and teachers' board topnotchers
talk about their experience in the STEP UP program

Kim T. Dodongan
PBEd scholar, University of South Eastern Philippines - Tagum
Top 4, March 28, 2018 Board Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers (BLEPT)

“Going into college, I had Education as my last option, not because I thought it would be easy but precisely because I knew it would ask a lot of me. Hindi madali! Kahit daw sa bahay ay dala mo pa rin ang trabaho. In addition to the workload, I’ve also had struggles facing a crowd which made it more difficult for me. But once I had decided, there was no looking back: I only did my best. I even tried selling food in school to help with my expenses. I also had my share na mamroblema sa pambayad tuwing enrolment and even tried to study na walang ilaw dahil walang pambayad ng bills. The encouragement that came from my mom and the experiences I gained through a lot of hardships helped build my grit to graduate with honors.

Kaya, abot langit ang pasasalamat ko when I learned that I would be a PBEd scholar. More than the financial assistance, it was the relationships and the seminars that inspired me to do better, that eventually, I learned to appreciate the teaching profession. I remain thankful to my mentors who really cared for me during my studies. Also, the friendship among the scholars makes me nostalgic. Thus, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU, PBEd! Keep inspiring the youth. May God bless you more.”

PBEd scholar, University of South Eastern Philippines - Tagum
Top 6, March 28, 2018 BLEPT

“Why become a teacher? I did not really know the answer to that when I decided on a college track. All I knew was that I didn’t want to add to my family’s financial burden. But that same decision has now given my life meaning. It was during my practicum days when my love for teaching started to grow. I saw my students fill with joy and amazement as they learn. Teaching can be tiring, demanding so much from us. However, at the end of the day, it always becomes worthwhile knowing that I am able to impart something relevant to my students, and that is when teaching becomes fulfilling.

“How did it all happen for me? PBEd helped me--financially, academically, and emotionally--to grow in my field through the assistance of our mentors. It made my college life more interesting and worthwhile. I was able to help my parents financially and do my projects well because I had the support I needed. I finished my degree because of my scholarship and I will always be indebted to this. It’s a one-of-a-kind scholarship. PBEd is the reason why I was able to afford a review center as a preparation for my BLEPT last March 25, 2018. Without that support, I could have not been able to top the LET. Truly, PBEd changes lives and helps dreams become reality.”

PBEd scholar, University of South Eastern Philippines - Tagum
Top 7, March 28 BLEPT

“A book from my high school days goes, ‘A doctor’s mistake is buried; a lawyer’s mistake is imprisoned; an accountant’s mistake is jailed; a dentist’s mistake is pulled; a pharmacist’s mistake is dead; a plumber’s mistake is stopped; an electrician’s mistake is shocked; a carpenter’s mistake is sawdust; a teacher’s mistake is FAILED; a printer’s mistake is redone. And yours?’ To others it may be a simple rhetoric about self-assessment, but what has stayed with me through the years was the part of what happens if a teacher commits a mistake: failure. ‘How big is the yoke shouldered by teachers’ was the only thing that ran through my mind. It was intimidating and inspiring, which helped me understand the importance of rigorous training in college.

“I decided to skip the September 2017 BLEPT, wanting to condition myself first before taking the exam. So, I worked as a part-time teacher in a private institution and found solace in the most unexpected way. There was never a time when my co-teachers would not tease me about acing the exam in order to redeem myself from the frustration I had of not graduating with honors. So I strove for the top, silently putting in extra effort and consistently asking for the Almighty’s providence. By God’s grace, I more than passed the March 2018 BLEPT!

“To my fellow PBEd scholars, don’t be discouraged when life shakes you up, because you will always get what you give. Just keep the passion and heart for teaching. After all, a teacher is measured not by his own achievements but by his students.”

PBEd scholar, University of South Eastern Philippines - Tagum
Top 10, March 28 BLEPT

“The road I traversed was anything but smooth. There came a time when I was left with no choice but to stop attending school because my family can no longer support me financially. It was that time when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It felt like my world lost all light, and I longed for a miracle to come. I prayed to God for him to bless me one more time. Then I heard about STEP UP and without any hesitation I applied. After going through the process, thankfully, I became a STEP UP scholar. I'm very grateful not only for the financial support but also for the mentoring support, which enhanced our skills to be the best that we can be. It was tough, yes. But I was mentored, cared for. I belonged, and that’s because STEP UP is not just a scholarship program but family. Thank you!

“To all aspiring teachers and those already on the ground, let's keep on fighting and give our best shot at everything. Life is tough, but we are tougher! Fight!”

These quotes are reprinted from the STEP UP Philippines Facebook Page.

These developments, I must say in all honesty, are definitely bright spots in what has been not a very well-lighted landscape of public education in the Philippines. For this the Philippine Business for Education needs to be commended heartily for its vision and sustained effort to pursue it despite daunting odds.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2018, 09:47:59 AM by Joe Carillo »