By Christian Inovejas, MA
Bukidnon State University
Ethel used to be my student, after graduation she was lucky to have landed a job as public school teacher. Three years followed, she met Dodong, fell in love and they got married. Six years later, Maam Ethel decided to work in Hongkong as DH. She took a leave from her school and left her husband and kids for the ultimate sacrifice of working abroad for the sake of her family.
It is worth noting that someone so dedicated and so passionate about teaching would leave the country for a menial job in Hongkong. The usual explanation given by most OFWs is the pittance salary that they receive here in this country. The salary is not enough to raise a family hence, the flocking abroad for greener pastures. I know of some of my former students who are now teaching in Texas and other parts of the US. They are earning dollars; many times more than what they could earn here.
The usual government response to this phenomenon of teachers becoming OFW is indifference. It merely pays lip service to the teachers during elections and graduations; when most of these officials are invited as commencement speakers. This attitude could be attributed to the low regard that politicians have for teachers. How could they do this? Is it not that they once had teachers? Is it not that teachers taught them the many skills that they have now as government official? Have they forgotten all these?
Politicians could always use the masses as a scapegoat for their indifference; that the masses are more important, that the masses are to be given jobs, etc. One thing that they fail to notice: that their indifference has slowly denigrated the teachers to the level of penury – teachers have become part of the masses. Now all the platitudes, praises, exultations can never undo the damage that these politicians have on the lives of the teachers. If it is a crime to neglect the education of the youth, it all started with the crime of not taking care of our educators.
We often decry the poor state of education. We often question the kind of education that our children are having. We even question the kind of teachers we are producing. But we never ask ourselves the kind of investment that we put in education in general. We never ask the question as to the proper ways of taking care of the general program of education. We have left the future of this country in the hands of politicians who likes to steal, lie, plunder and what have you. We have forgotten the importance of education in making this country great. We have forgotten what our teachers taught us – that there is more to life than money, power, prestige and even wealth – that the love of country is best served by serving others. That the best way of serving others is by providing them the best education we could ever provide. Pacquiao may have made us proud to be Filipinos but boxing is not something that we can exult as the future of this nation. The real reason for us to be proud is when we see our kids educated in the ways of humanities, arts, science and technology and mathematics. It is when we put the real value of education to where our heart is that we begin to have the real pride – the pride of knowing that the future of this country is in good hands. Not everyone can be a Pacquiao and not every time that Pacquiao can win boxing matches. But you can never lose if you invest in education. Everybody wins.
I have nothing against boxing but I have everything against the prevailing neglect on education and educators. If you compromise education, you compromise the future. This is something that politicians don’t see because they are not after the real welfare of this country. They are after their own political survival. What really happens is that education becomes a product of a political competition where policies change depending on the political color of a political animal. This is not the right direction. This is not the future. This is not the best that we could offer to our kids.