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Random Thoughts | The culprit: Teacher education

“How do we recruit and sustain smart people in the teaching profession? Through financial incentives, yes, but more than that, through intellectual stimulation. Furthermore, metacognition (learning how to learn) should be part of basic education. By understanding the distinctive cognition demands of each subject, teachers will become experts of the course content and processes.” (Prof. Grace Shangkuan Koo, PhD, “Why PH’s dismal Pisa results were no surprise,” COMMENTARY Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 10, 2019).

-oOo-

Ms. Koo is a professor of educational psychology at the University of the Philippines. No wonder she “hit the nail in the head” of the root cause of the miserable failure of Filipino students in the recently PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) test.

Per info, “the top-ranking countries do not spend the most for education, but they spend a good portion on recruiting and sustaining the best teachers.” Hence, DepEd should now seriously focus on teacher recruitment! And if we may suggest, DepEd should also immediately launch a massive retraining of their current teachers handling reading, Math and Science subjects. We think CHED should likewise do this. In addition CHED should, as soon as possible, check the performances of Colleges and Universities offering Teacher Education courses. Close those “diploma mills” institutes please.

This is an emergency case, and therefore needs emergency actions from DepEd and CHED!

In our time, public schools were more superior than private schools. “Pag graduate ka ng public school noon, sikat and mga ito.” Sad to say, many good things before in our country have deteriorated as time went by. We use to be number two next to Japan in Asia. Now we are almost at the bottom of the heap. Why? We think because most, if not all, of our institutions deteriorated.

In the book “The Poverty of Nations,” four critical factors must be attended to:

1. The nation’s government, 2. The nation’s economy, 3. The nation’s freedom, 4. The nation’s values.

It seems that the Philippines deteriorated in all of these four critical factors. Our coming book titled “Go for real social transformation” is very relevant in addressing our seriously sick society, which includes our deteriorated government’s basic educational institution.

Prof. Koo rightly pointed out: 1. Is reading comprehension a problem of the English language? No.

2. Are the test items to blame? No.; 3. Is Poverty to blame? No.; 4. Is the curriculum the problem? No.; 5. The takeaway message. Recruit and sustain good teachers. (Particularly in Reading, Math and Science if I may add)

Of course, we would say that our public school teachers are doing a heroic job with all the other problems besetting our public education. For this the Filipino people are very grateful to them. Despite this, however, Prof. Koo’s analysis and suggestion should be seriously consider by DepEd and CHED and immediately do the needful to correct what needs to be corrected. There are ASAP solutions, medium term solutions, and long term solutions to the problem at hand.

More insights from Prof. Koo: “Why am I not surprised by the (PISA) results? For the past 23 years, I observed the steady decline of the quality of students in terms of English and Math (including Science) proficiency. Education is not an attractive vocation. Hence teacher education institutes sometimes lower the bar by accepting applicants who do not really make the mark. (“Meron ngang nagsasabing mga magulang na kumuha na lang ang mga anak nila ng Education kasi mahina sila sa Math at Science.” Remember: “You can’t improve what you can’t measure.”

A retired science and high school principal, Edwin de Leon likewise, has a good point when he pointed out that the relatively low compensation for teachers makes it very difficult to attract the best and the brightest to the teaching profession. Hence, our suggestion here is to increase the salary rate of all teachers. However, there should be special requirements and compensation for Math and Science teachers.

Per Rev. Frederick T. Munday, President and head pastor of Holy Chapel of Evangelical Fellowship, Benguest: “DepEd has the temerity to lay the blame somewhere else and could only issue motherhood statements that fail to address the real issues. While there are no quick fixes, the DepEd can and should adopt measures and take decisive steps within its powers to address the pressing issues hounding our nation’s quality of education.”

My added suggestion in this regard is for our government to establish more quality Science High School in the country.

By the way, my family is a family of teachers. Teaching is the noblest profession. One of the titles bestowed to our Lord Jesus Christ was Teacher.

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