Saturday, September 10, 2005

Anti-illiteracy in the Philippines

I have been a teacher for less than three years, intermittently. In spite of all the feel good movies out there about how wonderful the teaching profession is, I haven't found it to be so. Take note, I said the teaching profession isn't wonderful, not teaching itself.

One of the reasons why I found that I cannot stay in the Philippine teaching profession is the "hakot" mentality in the country's literacy programs. Simply put, they don't bother so much about quality in education as long as as many children as possible are in school. Again take note, the programs are merely trying to get children into school, but that's about it. And about as many children as they can cram into classrooms and assigning them to a ridiculous teacher-to-student ratio, frequently 50 students to a teacher. Well... not quite. Actually, it's more like a hundred or more to a teacher, since we used to be given a ridiculous number of "preparations," that is, we don't just prepare for just one subject with a class of 50 students.

I have, of course, naively discussed this with my principal and my coordinator before—we need more teachers. The answer is, well, ridiculously simple: not enough funds. Of course! Why didn't I think of that? The traditional models of supply and demand is overturned. We have here a clear case of demand and with little supply (yes, believe it or not; inspite of all the Educ graduates the colleges and universities churn out each year), one would think that teachers would be paid more. The fact is that since teachers traditionally have low salaries, even thinking that teachers should be paid a lot is totally alien.

Well, some bloke from down under thinks that a profit can be made for teaching-for-profit, and he isn't talking about just money.