A famous person named anonymous said, ”Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions.” I perfectly agree with this quotation ( unfortunately I could not thank the person who thought of this). Teaching is one of the greatest professions, if not, the greatest in the Philippines. The knowledge that a teacher imparts can be translated into buildings (by civil engineers), gadgets (by IT specialists), cars (by Automotive engineers), and saving lives through medical services (by nurses and doctors). Most importantly, a teacher implants seeds of knowledge into the minds of the students, which would, later on, grow into a tree of hopes and dreams.
Teaching as a Vocation
As a college instructor for almost 20 years, I have come to realize that teaching is a vocation, not merely a source of income. I have accepted the fact that I will not get rich as a teacher in the Philippines. But, I have a firm belief that money will come next if you are happy with what you are doing. That’s what teaching offers me, happiness. My satisfaction is usually derived from my extreme desire to explain serious social issues (SSS, as I call it) relevant to my students’ lives. I usually forget how uncompensated I am as a teacher every time I see the mesmerized facial expressions of my students while I discuss controversial topics that affect our country. My students’ curiosity on the reasons why the Philippines is still a poor country (from the perspective of sociology, economics, and political science) is enough for me to continue this profession.
I feel like I am walking into a cloud nine when I explain to them Descartes’ ”I think, therefore, I am,” the Ideal world and material world of Plato, and other philosophical doctrines. My enthusiasm in teaching is further induced if my students ask important questions about the Philippine Government and Constitution. It means that I was able to trigger their curiosity that would lead to the broadening of their awareness about such critical social issues. I have promised myself that I will always teach my students the important quote of Socrates,” The unexamined life is not worth living.” Education will help them see the light if they continue to examine their purpose in life. Through teaching, I have the chance to inspire them to reflect on important questions such as, “what is meant to be alive? How can they help our country? How can we stop corruption?
Unfortunately, the feeling of bliss that I experience when I teach is not converted into money. If you teach in the Philippines, it is really a vocation or a public service. I say this because teaching requires hard work and preparation, and one has to walk the extra mile just to provide the students what they need to know. You should allow sufficient time for reading, taking notes, writing your lecture, and designing a PowerPoint presentation or visuals. It is also important for you to harness that courage to tell the students the truth even if it contradicts the status quo (if you’re teaching social science subjects). Be sure also that you are eloquent enough to explain theories in social science subjects to sharpen the minds of students. If you want your Filipino students to listen, you have to be creative and if possible, be theatrical, as if you are acting on a stage. As Gail Godwin said,” Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths pure theatre.” Honestly, I practice at home and in front of a mirror to ensure that I could deliver my lecture inside the classroom vibrantly or theatrically. I don’t go to class unprepared because it will be a waste of time and resources for the government.
Compensation of Teachers Abroad
In the international context, teachers get the highest respect from society especially in China, Malaysia, and other Asian countries. They are even placed at the same level as a social worker or doctor in the mentioned countries. Similarly, teachers are given the highest respect in the United States and other western countries. When it comes to salaries, teachers received the highest pay in U.A.E., Japan, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle East Countries, amounting from $2,200-$5,000 (almost 100,000 in Philippine pesos) a month. These are concrete indicators that teachers are considered essential workers and they should be treated with respect and appropriate remuneration.
Compensation of Teachers in the Philippines
Regrettably, teachers’ efforts are not fully appreciated and compensated in the Philippines. For one thing, the salary rate (P23,000- P30,000 pesos a month) of an ordinary teacher is not sufficient to satisfy the needs of the family and maintain a comfortable life. Unlike other workers, teachers’ outputs can not be exactly measured or calculated. The knowledge that we impart and the time we consume in reading books, creating lessons, designing a quiz or exam, and others can not be computed by basic statistics, equations in calculus, or formulas in physics. It would be futile to compute them since the services that we give to our students, community, our nation, and the world, in general, are immeasurable.
Specifically, college teachers in the Philippines are being paid either monthly or per hour basis. If the teacher is contractual, his/her teaching hours would range from 6 hours onwards (if he/she is lucky, he/she may get too many overloads because of his/her closeness with the person in authority who distributes the teaching loads.) Teaching loads should be distributed according to universally standard criteria particularly seniority, Master’s or doctoral degree, specialization, number of research papers, publications, community involvement, and other credentials. However, in reality, teachers may be given many overloads or nothing at all without consideration to the criteria mentioned above.
Despite the low salary, overloading of paper works, and unstable educational system, Filipino teachers are still giving their all (even their life) just to spread their advocacy and expertise to the young ones. We treat our profession as a public service because we believe that it is an obligation to share what we know especially if it would contribute to the improvement of the lives of others and the growth of the nation. So, the cliche, “teaching is a noble profession” is true to us Filipino teachers.