As a student, I would dream of new pens, bags, shoes and sets of our school uniform every June. My heart would light up whenever I ran the palm of my hand on a thick and smooth pad paper, remembering those carefree moments: no stress, unbound by responsibilities, oblivious of unpaid bills but conscientious when it comes to school activities and assignments.
But that’s all in the past; the tables have turned. I am now a teacher. And I have been serving in a public school for eight years already.
During the start of a new school year, my thoughts have changed entirely. I now get worried whether my old uniforms would still fit or if our newly-issued ones, should there be any, would suit our tropical climate. I still feel nervous and challenged whenever I face new students. I hope I have prepared myself enough during the two-month vacation, knowing well that I should have fully gained my strength and energy that were drained last school year. I know I am not the only one fervently praying to be assigned to classes with studious, diligent and well-mannered students though I know expectations are very far from reality.
With this, I have come to realize why some describe teachers as “resilient” and regard the teaching profession as “a noble job.” We are not only teachers — we fulfill various tasks outside our job description, doing our best to give the world competent professionals.
I graduated in 2002 from a public high school in Metro Manila and after 14 years, unfortunately, I feel as though nothing much has changed in our public education system.
It saddens me that my students do not complain anymore; they are now used to their overcrowded classrooms. It is now 2016 and we still use chalks and green boards in contrast to white boards ubiquitous in many developed countries. In our school, like in many other public schools, there is no sports gymnasium and not enough tables and seats in the canteen or cafeteria. Trees are rare and there are no greenhouses.
So don’t get me wrong when I get envious of our counterparts in prestigious private schools, where many of our seminars are usually held. Their classrooms are well-lit, well-ventilated, and complete with instructional materials and audio-visual systems. They also comply with the recommended ratio of one teacher for every thirty students. I wish we can also experience the same comfort in public schools.
I wonder when our small school ground would turn into a spacious open baseball field. I dream of a school library as grand and complete as that in the Harry Potter movies. And I also dream of sophisticated laboratory rooms just like those we see in the American television series Breaking Bad so students will be enticed to develop their full potential and invent something at a young age.
It’s not only the students who hope for more computers and sufficient comfort rooms but the teachers as well. There are a lot of proposals and plans for modernization but I wish these will all soon become reality. The Department of Education had the highest allocated budget last year among all government departments yet we cannot deny there are a lot of things that still need improvement.
Thanks to the creation of the National School Maintenance Week program more popularly known as Brigada Eskwela, the sprucing up of schools before the opening of classes has been addressed. This 2016, it was held from May 30 to June 4. It is a genuine community endeavor to make the school environment conducive to learning despite financial constraints and challenges. The concerted participation of the entire community made this possible through general cleaning, repairing of chairs, repainting of classroom walls and replanting of ornamental plants. Together, we created a better place for our students.
The Philippines can still compete globally, even though our education system is far behind that of developed countries and we are often derogatorily labeled by some as a third world country. We owe this to our talented, intelligent and creative students as well as to our dedicated and passionate educators.
I am looking forward to the school year 2016-2017 because it is the pilot year for Grade 11 in Senior High School. I have great hopes that the K to 12 Program would soon translate its objectives into reality. But relying on teachers alone in achieving quality education will not work. For in order to educate a child, we would need the whole community.
[Entry 146, The SubSelfie Blog]
About the Author:
Elizabeth Auxillo, or Ma’am Beth to her students, is a Teacher III of Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies). At 31 years old, she is celebrating her eighth year in the teaching profession at the Holy Spirit National High School in Quezon City.