RIWAYA: Galvanize! Quality Education Needs Quality Teachers

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 16 July) — I often hear lamentation from parents/guardians who need more than one laptop for their children who are virtual learners; from illiterate senior citizens who serve as sole guardian to their grandkids whose single mothers work as kasambahays overseas foreign workers; from internet learners with very slow interconnectivity or the absence of it; from those who are put to hazardous exposure to radiation from basking long hours in front of their computers; from parents and guardians like me who are appalled by “carabao English” and substantial errata in modules with missing pages if not poorly printed to the point of being unreadable.

These are but a few only from the side of learners and parents. What about lamentations from teachers who are also parents who are obligated to nurture their own kids at home during the pandemic?

I believe that now during this COVID-19 pandemic more than ever, we must make quality education easy, not difficult for all types of learners and their parents but for our educators as well especially now that our physical institutions have moved outside and expanded to every home. As quality educators, this is the challenge that we must live up to in order to transform the quality of the world and the quality of life of our children in spite and despite of the pandemic.

Personally, I experienced frustration over my niece’s performance task final requirements in Organization and Management and Applied Economics subjects as a Grade XII student. The teacher assigned pdf readings from doctoral researchers. These are utterly scholarly with highly technical terms. I feed-backed the teacher over why heavy references are required for them to read for analytical discussion and critique. But only to be told that her output need not be equally heavy but just be simple, as in no pressure.

I cannot comprehend why onerous academic researches be given for reading when it’s just for a simple output! Why make a simple matter highly complex like even adding a revalida? Research requirements are expected to be done by a Grade XII student in just five days while an average college senior would take a semester to learn fundamentals of research and another semester to produce final thesis for defense. My niece’s long distance learning was purely modular; that’s a big challenge/barrier to hurdle in terms of the relevance of Google search engine because I decided not to allow her to own a mobile phone not until she had graduated from Senior high, plus my laptop has long been disabled.

Alhamdulillah! We are so lucky to have a very efficient and compassionate adviser for our niece; she resolved our difficulties by communicating our concerns to her respective teachers. But what about others? Are they just as fortunate?

Truth is, how many schools were sanitized and locked up for more than a week to almost a month because some teachers tested positive? Consequently, learners and their parents have to bear the brunt of cramming with a bulk of modules to read and activities to perform all in one week’s time as final requirements in all subjects. This is both grueling for teachers as well as for learners and their family in terms of adjustment during this crisis. It could have been easier if final requirements were given in advance at the start of the term so students have ample time to prepare before deadline comes.

Thus, I wholeheartedly reaffirm the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) specifically Goal 4 — Quality Education: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Moreover, I resonate with the best definition formulated by EI (Education International) that quality education is indeed “one that focuses on the whole child — the social, emotional, mental, physical, and cognitive development of each student regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or geographic location.”

Thus, it is but only imperative that we give emphasis not only to strengthen access to quality education for all but to galvanize above all quality educators for all learners regardless of age and socioeconomic status in order to prepare every child not just to be tested or measured in the course of their learning process but to prepare them how to live holistically their own lives in relation to the rest of humanity. This is because life is the ultimate lifelong learning process to survive untainted without being corrupted by their internal and external environmental niche.

Nonetheless, this concern must also apply to teachers’ well-being. How can we have quality teachers when their well-being is put to potential COVID-19 hazards and to pandemic risks? Worst, they bring the “possible carrier” risks at home – to their vulnerable kids and elderly. What’s the use of mobility restrictions for kids when teachers are being mandatorily required to report to school? Why not just work from home (WFH) totally? Does the Department of Education have “trust issues”? Their teachers are heroic frontliners but subhan Allah they are not soldiers!

We must realize that we can fortify the pillars of quality education only if indeed we as quality educators work hand in hand with the government and its line agencies “to ensure access to quality teachers; to provide use of quality learning tools and professional development; and to establish safe and supportive quality learning environments for both learners and teachers; as well as alternative learnings with or even without tech-support.” Galvanize quality educators toward quality education for all!

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Warina Sushil A. Jukuy describes herself as a” Muslim Tausug of Lupah Sug in diaspora, displaced twice from Sulu to Davao City in 1974 and again since 2009. She thrives as a Peace Warrior using mortar and pestle, pen and ink, colors and voice, and keyboard.”)

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