"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Who Here Wants to Be a Teacher?"

This question was raised by Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg to a group of senior high school students in Manhattan (New York Times, 2011). 2 out of the 15 students raised their hands. In Finland, according to Sahlberg, the number would be about twice as much and with greater enthusiasm. He also noted that being admitted to a teacher education program in Finland is more difficult than getting into either law or medicine.

Sahlberg would probably be surprised if he had asked two Filipino children named Enrico and Danica. The following video is from Rappler.com, introducing us to these two kids ("Meet Enrico and Danica, Child Workers"):


These are the words from Enrico:
Ang pangarap ko ay maging isang titser para maturuan ko iyong ibang kabataan na hindi pa gaano, wala pang gaanong kaalaman (My dream is to be a teacher so that I could teach children who don't know that much.)"
And from Danica:
"Ang pangarap ko po sa buhay ay maging isang guro po. Kasi gusto ko pong matulungan yung mga tao tsaka yung mga bata na walang alam, kung pano magsulat, pano magbasa. Tsaka ipapaalam ko po sa kanila yung tungkol sa child labor po. (I aspire to be a teacher. Because I want to help those people and children who don’t know much, how to write, how to read. And I will tell them about child labor.)"
Both children are among the 5.5 million child laborers in the Philippines. The National Statistics Office and the International Labour Organization reports (2011 Survey on Children: Child labour in the Philippines):


"Preliminary results of the 2011 Survey on Children in the Philippines revealed that of the 29 million Filipino children, aged 5-17 years old, there were roughly about 5.5 million working children, of which almost 3 million were in hazardous child labour. The National Statistics Office conducted the survey with the support of the International Labour Organization and the US Department of Labor." -International Labour Organization 
This survey may not be directly comparable to the statistics obtained ten years ago, but it is quite clear that the number of child laborers in the Philippines is increasing. Congressman Raymond V. Palatino writes in his blog (Poverty and Children):
"These are very alarming numbers and they highlight the ‘heinous crimes’ committed by the state against Filipino children. The crimes pertain to the lack of social services and welfare programs provided to children."
Child labor and school dropouts are very much linked to each other (review the figure above). As Pasi Sahlberg has noted, education reform begins with total commitment to the following:
  • Funding of schools
  • Well-being of children
  • Education as a human right 
The commitment from the public is enormous without any doubt. Even Enrico and Danica are committed to education. The child laborers speak of their dreams of becoming teachers in the future. Teaching is a vocation and in the Philippines, it is a huge sacrifice. We witness this commitment everyday in the lives of hundreds of thousands of teachers who have chosen to serve the youth in the Philippines. We know where lack of commitment lies....
The Lost Children of Ulingan
(http://dennisvillegas.blogspot.com/2011/02/lost-children-of-ulingan.html)

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