I had to read that title twice just to make sure that I was reading it right. After a minute or so, and wearing my reading glasses, I was convinced that I was reading the title correctly: A curriculum could improve teacher quality. A title like this should shake the education reform world. Somehow, the Philippines had discovered a curriculum that improved teacher quality.
When my son was two years old, I took him to visit the Philippines. And one day, our hosts took us to Caliraya. It was a beautiful place except that it was drizzling that morning. My son was excited to be able to run around the open spaces. It was difficult to keep him still. One of our companions told me that I should probably take my son under a shed, worried that my son might get a cold. I asked my companion whether rain droplets in the Philippines contained the cold virus. Another companion quietly smiled recognizing that I raised a good point.
We could easily be misinformed. Unfortunately, popular media often reinforced wrong notions. The above title came from a news article published in the Philippine Star
(The Philippine Star)
| Updated December 13, 2012 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Long before the Department of Education went full stream with the K to 12 Curriculum, many of the half a million current public school teaching force were quietly being trained here and abroad to hone their skills, improve the quality of public education and bring back glory to the profession.
Under the leadership of Secretary Armin Luistro, the DepEd has provided young and old teachers alike, with opportunities to expose themselves to new learning and teaching methods which they eventually will impart to their students...
...Two such products of this LEAP program, who underwent training in Singapore in 2008, were Sabrina Ongkiko and Princess Gatan, both public school teachers from Quezon City, who now serve as ambassadors to the GO! Education program of DepEd that conducts roadshows and campaigns around the country to spread the good news in Education for K to 12, teacher quality, and resources....
I tried to find an image on the web that could describe my reaction to this article. I found this from "5 Myths About Online Advertising":
The article blatantly misinforms the public. And it is not just the title. The article talks about special programs that have been made available to train teachers. The timelines are especially unclear with regard to when and how these programs have been implemented. There is the descriptive phrase "long before K to 12", yet there is an attempt (from the title and other sections of the article) to couple these programs with the current DepEd administration. The first sentence alone of the article already contradicts the title.
Apparently, in 2008, several teachers have undergone training in Singapore. This is ironic since Singapore has 10 years of basic education. It maybe useful to read Joe Padre's article, "Where K to 10 is BETTER than K to 12", in which he compared the United States system against that of Singapore. There have been attempts to place Singaporean educators in the Philippines to train teachers. Additionally, about a hundred teachers (which the article describes as "many" among the 500000 teachers in the Philippines, 100 is 0.02% of half a million) have received a year scholarship to pursue master degrees in Australia.
These efforts, without doubt, are laudable. The question of sustainability, broad and long lasting impacts, unfortunately, still remains. Sending teachers to other countries to advance their skills and knowledge certainly contribute to individual progress. Whether the education system is improved or not depends on retention and influence of these individuals. There is no way around establishing excellent teaching institutions inside the country. This may require recruitment of faculty from other countries who would be willing to take permanent or tenured positions in the Philippines. Only through a local institution can the improvement of "many of the half a million teachers" can be realized.
By the way, my son did not catch a cold after that trip to Caliraya....
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