Looking up to our teachers
ROSES & THORNS By Alejandro R. Roces (The Philippine Star) Updated September 08, 2009 12:00 AM
A month-long national campaign for teachers is being observed this month. This was launched on September 4 and will culminate on October 5, a day proclaimed by the UNESCO as World Teachers’ Day. Teachers of today are faced with a great challenge as the world becomes more and more a global village and the country to which they belong needs to put up with increasing competition for growth and survival. The need for constantly upgrading their knowledge and skills comes to fore in the light of rapidly changing information from the internet and other media sources such as the television, radio and newspapers, from where students get more and learn more, both good and bad, and sadly, without guidance.
Today, we also observe International Literacy Day, and focus is trained on a staggering 780 million adults in the world who are illiterate, with at least a hundred million children lacking access to education. In our country, although the basic literacy rate (the ability of a person to read and write with understanding of a simple message in common languages or dialect) is fairly high at 93 percent for individuals over 10 years old, millions remain out of school and more found to be functionally illiterate, especially those among the indigenous cultural communities. These are the pocket areas where the special need for teachers with genuine commitment, a missionary heart driven by a strong vocation to impart knowledge should be directed. Without the benefit of schools and teachers in these remote areas, these marginalized people will remain in the doldrums of ignorance without caring people to reach out to them. Few people remember that some of these marginalized groups (like the Tasadays in the seventies) have not once been taken advantage of for self-enrichment and selfish ambitions of a few “knowledgeable” individuals. This is because of their lack of understanding of the ways of the world because they kept much among themselves, with no one to teach them the basic facts of life in relation to others outside of their sphere.
The role of teachers today is sadly relegated to the mere imparting of knowledge and skills, seeing through the accomplishment of academic requirements until their students graduate from a stage of education to the next or helping them attain a degree in higher learning. To anyone, undoubtedly, teaching is indeed a noble role and being able to help a student realize a major achievement in life while making him become a responsible citizen, gives them a sense of fulfillment in their chosen vocation. They cannot help it that competition is ingrained from the early stages of a life’s learning process, but in the same degree that this drives a person to achieve, a spirit of competition, unknowingly, also helps plant the seeds of corruption and false ambition to be the greatest one day. Hence, today, it is not uncommon to see the most privileged and educated individuals, some of them in “public service” involved in the most corrupt practices, entangled in their ambitions to have more and become more no matter who gets hurt in the process.
We read of awards citing the most outstanding teachers for their achievements in their line of work, who made a difference in the lives of their students and co-teachers alike and who went beyond their limitations and difficult situations in order to encourage their students not only to learn more but to contribute valuable and novel ideas for the betterment of society and its citizens. We salute our teachers who develop the best in their students, because they put their hearts and minds for them. They instil in people the values of hard work, sacrifice and discipline, encourage attitudes towards learning more and caring for others at the same time, leading them to have a greater vision beyond their ambitions.
May we have more of these kinds of teachers in our midst today. With them, our hope for a better future for everyone is alive!