By Herman M. Lagon
IN EVERY civilization’s heart, an indispensable force exists, tirelessly shaping the contours of the future. This force comprises the educators, the unsung heroes entrusted with the monumental task of molding young minds. Their tale resonates with the might of centuries, yet their struggles are emblematic of educators globally, especially in the Philippines.
The melodious hum of tradition, which celebrates the spirit of teaching, is underscored by concerning statistics. Recent findings divulge a disconcerting 91% learning poverty rate in the Philippines. Such a figure places the nation alarmingly low in regional rankings. This undeniable challenge accentuates teachers’ paramount role in steering this narrative toward positive change.
St. Ignatius of Loyola once proclaimed, “Go forth and set the world on fire.” This is not a call to complacency but a beckoning towards transformative action in education. Teachers, akin to Ignatian ideals, are not mere transmitters of knowledge but igniters of change. However, the adversities they face in the Philippines, from grappling with content mastery to overcoming systemic issues, are manifold. An Ignatian lens emphasizes “cura personalis” or care for the entire person. It is not solely about academic prowess but the holistic development of every student. Such a philosophy underscores the need to address teachers’ multifaceted challenges in curriculum delivery, budget, bureaucracy, compensation, and personal growth.
The narrative is not all grim. Amidst these challenges, the resilience of these educators remains indomitable. Stories abound of teachers going beyond their duty, whether through personal sacrifices for teaching materials or traversing rugged terrains to reach their students. Their dedication, anchored in the belief in a better tomorrow, keeps the flame of hope burning brightly.
As we stand on the precipice of World Teachers’ Day, we must recognize, support, and advocate for these architects of society. The theme for 2023, “The teachers we need for the education we want,” poignantly captures the essence of the hour. Teachers are the lifeblood of education, and it is alarming that many nations face a shortage of these stalwarts. The UNESCO estimate that the world would need over 69 million new teachers by 2030 is a testament to the growing challenge.
As we pay tribute to our educators, let us recognize their sacrifices and act. Systemic constraints often overshadow their efforts, and they deserve our collective support and acknowledgment. The future trajectory of societies does not lie merely in the hands of policymakers but predominantly in the hands of those shaping the minds of the youth, our educators, and our second parents. As we forge ahead, let us ensure that the melodies of progress, played by these unsung heroes, resonate louder, echoing the promise of a brighter future.
Important note: The final installment of my two-part column on Divorce, titled “Untying the Knot: The Divorce Debate Continues,” will be published tomorrow, October 6.
Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.