Cakes, balloons, and songs are often dedicated to our teachers, especially on October 5 - World Teacher's Day. As we honor our teachers this year, it is not just about surprises and dedication, but also sympathizing and shedding light on their hidden cries and daily cross while working as the molders of our society.
At first glance, you might think that being a teacher is only about delivering lessons and the work ends there, but that’s not the reality for most teachers; in fact, to put it bluntly, they are overworked and underpaid at the same time.
If it’s a competition of who’s the most versatile, teachers would make the cut.
Teachers should focus on teaching, and less on administrative work
Instead of focusing exclusively on students' learning, school teachers are continuously plagued with administrative obligations that disrupt their primary role; to teach. Notwithstanding the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers prescribing only six-hour working days, the amount of time they allocate to accomplish the endless list of paperwork and other responsibilities extends beyond the mandated working hours.
According to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) report, public school faculty are frequently assigned jobs in various government initiatives such as mass vaccination, community mapping, conditional cash transfers, deworming medication, feeding programs, population censuses, anti-drug campaigns, and elections. Other than that, in real-life settings, due to the lack of facilities and resources in most schools in our country, teachers also become nurses, nutritionists, coaches, painters, carpenters, hosts, gardeners, and many more. Upon the fulfillment of these roles and jobs, their primary role as a teacher now bears the consequence; resulting in less time and divided focus in teaching.
Overworked and Underpaid
Teachers in public and private schools in the Philippines are underpaid, according to the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT). The organization fights for a raise in the Teacher 1 category salary from P27,000 to more than P36,000 per month at the request of teachers in the public school system. This isn’t an overestimation of what the teachers truly deserve in terms of wage, but because teachers aren’t solely teaching; they are doing so much more. Like home visitations, accompanying students during competitions, and fulfilling other roles in school while still ensuring a conducive, inclusive, and safe learning environment for all students at the same time, incorporates differentiated activities, quality and comprehensive content; and encourages engagement, motivation, and collaboration among the students.
The system they are serving demands so much yet gives so little. That is why it’s not a surprise nor a foreign notion to hear how some teachers opt to work abroad with higher salary opportunities rather than trying hard to remain patriotic in a country that fails to hear their concerns, value their rights, and compensate them properly.
The system itself is the problem
While some teachers find their way out, the newly hired ones are yet to face the reality in the teaching field, like how mismatch happens. Even if you study for 4-years as an English major, if the school needs a math teacher, and you need a job to live, you just suck up with the system.
Not to mention, the lack of classrooms with the existing ones not even conducive, and the lack of facilities, materials, and resources while teachers are expected to provide quality education out of all these limitations.
Versatility is one of the characteristics that an employer looks for in an employee, and a teacher’s versatility becomes a strength in fulfilling one's role and responsibilities. Oftentimes, "Teachers toiled in the shadows and managed to exceed our expectations," however, it is not righteous to romanticize this articulation. It is unjust to use versatility as a mask to hide the lack of action and poor response from concerned offices such as the Department of Education (DepEd), which has recently acquired billions worth of confidential funds yet problems concerning the education sector are merely tended to.
This isn’t written to spoil the fun and beauty of Teacher’s Day, nor to put teachers on a pedestal or throw a pity party, this is written to simply inform people that a teacher's everyday reality looks like this; without cakes and dedication— but with exploitations.