The theme of World Teachers’ Day 2021 is ‘Teachers at the heart of education recovery‘. It aims to recognize the tireless efforts of teachers to keep lessons going and ensure minimal disruption to pupils’ learning over the course of the pandemic.
As I look at the challenges faced by each generation of teachers in our family, I think education has a role in recovery in most if not all situations faced by the country/ society.
My parents were both teachers, and there are more in our family. It started with my mother’s family where there were five children – Jacinto, Eulogio, Primitiva (Tia Tibang), Anastacia (my mother) and Rosario (Tia Ayong). The men both took up law and all the women took up teaching, for elementary pupils. Tia Tibang died young. My mother and Tia Ayong both married teachers although Tia Ayong’s husband became a teacher only in the latter part of his career. The main challenge in my mother’s generation of teachers I think was during their early years of teaching, that period after World War 2 when the Philippines had to restructure the educational system, from the system introduced by the Japanese. Education was part of the recovery of our nation, of self-governance,
My parents had six children, the two eldest, Luisa and Medin became teachers. (I am the sixth). I think their personal challenge was adjusting from a Manila City education and environment to becoming a teacher in the barrio since they practiced their profession in our hometown. All teachers had to go through that route- being assigned to the farthest barrio, then to the nearer ones and eventually to the town proper. They had to look for accommodations and live in the barrio during the week, coming home to the town proper only on weekends , during teachers’ meetings or school activities. Sometimes the barrios they were assigned to could be reached only by boat, had no electricity and had no running water. In terms of challenge vis a vis the country and society, it was to spread education to far flung barrios of the land.
My third sibling, my brother Arturo, finished Mechanical Engineering but right after graduation , he taught at his college at the University of the Philippines (UP). He later shifted from teaching and worked at the Development Academy of the Philippines then eventually , the International Labor Organization. I think his challenge as a teacher/instructor was the type of students he handled. They were college students , at the University of the Philippines where students don’t hesitate to question their instructors/professors. I suppose since he graduated from the same university and the same college, he was prepared for that kind of challenge. It was in the ’70s , a time when student activism was so intense in the Philippines , more so in UP which was at the forefront of activism. and many students would rather be in the streets than in the classrooms. He experienced the Diliman Commune, what the students would like to consider as the Diliman Republic. Then martial law was declared in 1972 and education helped in returning to normalcy.
My bother Arturo’s older son, Ronnel , also had a short stint in teaching. He opted to start his career in the Philippines even if he was educated in the United Kingdom because of my brother’s assignment in ILO. (Ronnel had his elementary education here in the Philippines). He also taught at UP, College of Chemistry. He taught for a short while then shifted to a corporate career.
My sister Medin’s son Randy is now a teacher in our hometown. He’s now experiencing being assigned to the barrios. During this time of pandemic and hybrid teaching, his challenges are delivering the modules to his pupils and finding a good location where the WIFI reception is good. He also needs to learn the needed technology to perform his duties as a teacher. Soon the Department of Education will try face-to-face learning in pilot areas . He will be very much involved in the return to normalcy of education.
There are now younger members of the family showing interest in pursuing degrees in education. Time will tell if they will pursue their interest. If they do, am sure they will also be actively involved in a profession that performs a vital role in society.