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    The Role of Teaching in Nation Building

    07 October 2016

    Speech at DepEd Schools Division Office (SDO) and Legazpi City 2016 Education Summit Legazpi City Convention Center, Legazpi City, Albay

    Marhay na aldaw tabi saindo gabos. Salamat sa pag-imbitar sakuya digdi sa Legazpi. Mas maogma baga pag mga Bicolano ang mga iriba sa pagurulay.

    Being in the presence of such an energetic and passionate group gives me great hope that a better Philippines is on its way.

    Your tireless efforts and unwavering commitment in molding the minds of our youth continue to challenge and inspire us to work together and dream of a better country.

    They say that teachers have the toughest job in the world. Alam po ninyo, naging teacher akong sampung taon. In all the time I was studying law, I was a teacher during the day and a law student at night, padikit-dikit ang alay dahil teacher ko sa adlaw.

    Teaching requires you to clock in more than the usual work hours, siyempre alam ninyo yan, stay up until the wee hours of the night, pour out your sweat and tears, invest your heart and soul, and in some cases, even shell out your own resources.

    Teaching is like parenting on steroids. Ganoon pag nag-ste-steroids, dili mahutdan ug energy. There are days when we have no choice but to spend more time making lesson plans and checking papers instead of going out with friends. Some even end up spending less time with their families.

    Teaching can be quite demanding and emotionally draining. But of course we never give up. Despite all the hardships that come with the job, we still choose to give – even to the point of pain.

    Sadly though, even the noblest of intentions are sometimes met with tremendous disappointments. In a country where access to quality education is an ongoing battle for inclusivity, many Filipinos, especially the poor, still end up with the short end of the stick.

    Worse, those who live in far-flung communities and barangays are always left to fend for themselves and manage with the limited resources that they have.

    To highlight this problem, may pirmi ako na ishare na istorya. When I was was the representative of the third district of Camarines Sur, one day I went up to an upland barangay, I don’t know if you know Calabangga.

    I went up to Calabangga one Sunday, I went up, one of the farthest barangays in Mt. Isarog, I went to one classroom, nag iinspect ako ng mga schools, pagpasok ko sa classroom, it was sa wall, the walls of the classroom had 5 manila papers. Write on the paper, Monday, tapos may nakalista mga pangalan ng 9, Tuesday, may nakalista nanaman. Kada araw may siyam na ngalan ng aki na nakalista. Ang kaibanan po is a barangay kagawad.

    I was asking the barangay kagawad, ano iyong listahan? Ano iyong siyam na aki na nakalista? Ang sabi sa akon ay papaano po, 38 ang studyante, siyam lang ang upuan. Kaya nag-schedule ang teacher kung sino ang puwede umupo pag Monday, pag Tuesday.

    I remember exactly how I felt when I saw the sheet of Manila paper on the wall that schedules who gets to sit on a chair on which day. No child should ever have to sit on the cold floor while trying to learn. No child should have to learn arithmetic while their stomach hurts from lack of food.

    Teachers shouldn’t have to make that difficult choice either, of choosing only 9 among the 38. I am very sure preparing that schedule broke their hearts. After I saw that situation, I have shared that story many times over in the many speaking engagements that I do while I was a congresswoman in Manila.

    And the heartwarming thing is that when we came back, the students couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw us carrying chairs donated by so many different organizations and individuals. (Comment in Bicolano) It came to a point that the school did not know what to do with the chairs that people kept donating.

    How I wish solving the obstacles in improving the state of public education is that easy. Unfortunately, our problems are so intractable and the tasks so great that it will take years of us to fix them.

    Always remember that you play an important role in revolutionizing the current educational system. You have the ability to introduce innovations and new ways of learning.

    With every new course material, learning aid and class activity, you encourage students to be creative and critical of their surroundings. Each one of you holds a key to the enlightenment of a child’s mind. Each key is important; each task significant; each child worthy of our tireless efforts.

    May isa pa akong kwento, hindi ko alam kung nakuwento ko na. Before the start of the 2015, may mga barangay sa katabi ng Mt. Isarog. One day, I was on my way to visit an IP community, may nakita akong mga tao, I think there were around 15 of them, they were on the side of the road.

    I asked them, what are you doing here? It was the Thursday before the opening of classes. Sabi nila, nagtatayo po kami ng eskuwelahan. Sabi ko, saan itong eskuwelahan? Sabi nila, iyan po.

    When I looked at it, walong poste. Sabi ko, diba klase na sa Lunes hindi ba? Sabi nila, hinihintay nila si principal na bumili ng materyales. I went up the IP community and when I came back, the principal was there already, so I interviewed her. Sabi niya, Ma’am, i-nadvance ko na iyong P10,000, nag-withdraw ako sa ATM ko kasi kailangan ng pledge ng P10,000. May dumaan na tricycle may dalang nipa, yero, etc.

    Sabi ko, ilan ba gagawin niyong classroom? Apat lang, na mix grade pa.

    Sabi ko, paano kayo tatayo ng eskwelahan with P10,000? Sabi ng principal, puwede na iyan, Ma’am, baka maka-solicit kami sa iyo ng pera.

    The principal was never demanding of anything, they were content with what they had. I checked my wallet, I had P12,000. I gave her the P10,000.

    When I visited with my staff on Monday, may nabuo na sila. I talked about that specific school in one of my speeches and I posted pictures on Facebook and in one week, we were able to collect P300,000.

    In one month, buo ang eskuwelahan. Nakikita mo talaga ang dedication ng mga teachers. Sabi ng principal na there’s no public transportation going there, nag-habal-habal sila. But the dedication, the passion and the commitment of the principal and the teachers, nakikita talaga.

    Naalala ko, RD, yung naka-assign sa atin dati si USec Mario. Binitbit ko talaga siya, and in no time… But you know, I am telling you this because were it not for the dedication, the passion, the commitment of the principal and the teachers.

    Once a child is educated, there is a high likelihood that he will pull himself up from poverty. And when he does, he is less likely to sell his vote, his integrity, his dignity nor his freedom—political or economic. If we believe that we are what society becomes, then the solution to our country’s greatness is the emancipation of each Filipino child’s mind from ignorance.

    Education is one of the Office of the Vice President’s carefully chosen five-point agenda in alleviating poverty in the country. Being a country with one of the fastest population growth rate in the world, our problems with hard infrastructure will always be with us.

    But on top of school buildings, sanitation, science laboratories, chairs, and textbooks, let’s talk about two other issues our public education system is currently facing.

    One: the need to link senior high school graduates with relevant industries and, two) the worrying trend of severe stunting among Filipino children today.

    This year, 2016, is a transition year under the K-12 system. Ang bunso ko, nasa K-12, eh nasa public school, grade 11 na siya. We need to support the Department of Education in making this year as smooth and as productive as possible.

    We can do that by providing senior high school students with sufficient information so that they can choose specialization tracks that will ensure productive employment or business opportunities after senior high school.

    Iyan po ang tinutukan ng opisina, to link our senior high school programs with relevant industries so the transition mas madali.

    Local government units have a massive role to play in bridging industries with schools, so that students and their parents can make informed decisions. And it is you – our dear teachers — who are immersed in your student’s daily struggles that can give the best solutions to these problems.

    You are in a most powerful position to bridge their needs to the government’s response. Use your experiences on the ground in engaging your local leaders to come up with programs that will address the mismatch between the supply and demand of skill sets in communities.

    Studies have shown that the bigger problem is mental stunting. The issue on malnutrition and stunting is a more alarming one. According to a Save The Children report, the Philippines is one of the countries in the world that account for most of the global burden of malnutrition.

    We have 3.6 million (stunted) children, causing us to rank 9th among countries with the highest number of stunting, and 10th among countries with the highest burden of wasting. At present, there are 1.5 million Filipino children who go through a day without eating. Since children who are stunted have poor physical and mental development, they are likely to become repeaters in school or drop out of school. If this issue isn’t solved now, it will become a huge economic problem.

    As we celebrate National Teacher’s Month, World Teacher’s Day and recognize the achievements of our colleagues in the academe, may you remember that your duty in educating our nation’s children goes beyond the four corners of the classroom. It also extends into our local communities and families.

    In a time where our values as a people are constantly being shaken and questioned, where violence is being mistaken for peace, and where basic human rights are being scoffed at – teachers serve as beacons of light that shine brighter than ever. Use your influence and use it now. You are the hope of our 24.4 million children in our public schools.

    Congratulations po!

    Happy teachers’ day at happy teachers’ month!

    Posted in Speeches on Oct 07, 2016