When teach­ers leave

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -


LASSES are once again start­ing in most schools. In this sea­son, re­cruit­ing and hir­ing teach­ers is a tough chal­lenge on the part of Hu­man Re­source. Schools nowa­days no longer have the mo­nop­oly of their teach­ers who have been at­tracted to other pro­fes­sions that of­fer bet­ter com­pen­sa­tion and ben­e­fits.

Thirty or forty years ago those who stud­ied Ed­u­ca­tion (BSE, BEED, BSED) had a rather lin­ear di­rec­tion in life, and that is to teach. There was a high like­li­hood, then, that teach­ers would die with their boots on. This was the sit­u­a­tion when the world was sim­pler in many as­pects. As a child of the 80s, I wit­nessed how my teach­ers age in their job. To­day, we see a fast turnover of teach­ers in many schools. Af­ter two or three years of teach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, an Ed­u­ca­tion grad­u­ate would not hes­i­tate to trans­fer to the in­dus­try or ven­ture in a more chal­leng­ing work abroad.

I have heard a num­ber of times the ob­ser­va­tion or com­ment, some­times with much con­cern and in­ten­sity, that the im­per­ma­nence of the teach­ing force in schools dis­torts the ed­u­ca­tional process. Prob­lems in schools such as lack of les­son mas­tery and poor class­room man­age­ment are usu­ally at­trib­uted to the lack of sta­bil­ity in the teach­ing force. This may be a valid ob­ser­va­tion. Let’s be hon­est though that such isn’t an easy prob­lem to solve. It also can­not be im­me­di­ately blamed on or at­trib­uted to just a sin­gle fac­tor (e.g. salary) with­out fur­ther qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

If we come to think of it, times have changed. It’s not that those who left teach­ing are traitors of their vo­ca­tion. The mar­ket is chang­ing and glob­al­iza­tion has given us wider lat­i­tude of op­tions. In the 80s and (per­haps) 90s there were no call cen­ters. Go­ing abroad then and be­com­ing a teacher

(say in the U.S.) was not an easy op­tion. If there was any chance to work abroad, it was as a do­mes­tic helper. And given the pref­er­ence of Filipinos for a pro­fes­sional job, many were not will­ing to risk leav­ing their teach­ing posts.

The trend of the coun­try’s la­bor ex­port has changed. Doors have opened and eco­nomic bor­ders are col­laps­ing. The de­mand for lan­guage teach­ers has surged and this is pri­mar­ily due to the in­ter­est among some Asians to learn the English lan­guage. The prac­tice of hu­man re­source specif­i­cally in the field of tal­ent ac­qui­si­tion has changed. Multi­na­tional com­pa­nies are no longer as fix­ated with de­grees much as they are more in­ter­ested with skills and the ca­pac­ity to de­liver. Some­one who has a de­gree in Sec­ondary or Ele­men­tary Ed­u­ca­tion need not be nailed in his cho­sen pro­fes­sion.

And while the pull fac­tor is strong, the push fac­tor is equally strong. Many teach­ers would love to teach but for them check­ing and other pa­per works are just too un­bear­able. Stricter laws that pro­tect chil­dren’s rights some­times make teach­ers feel the in­creas­ing asym­met­ri­cal re­la­tions be­tween teach­ers and stu­dents. With high ef­forts only lead­ing to stress and yield­ing less im­pact, there is, for some teach­ers, no wis­dom or logic in stay­ing in the pro­fes­sion.

At the end of the day, stay­ing as a teacher or oth­er­wise is not an eth­i­cal ques­tion. It’s not an is­sue of right or wrong. Ev­ery in­di­vid­ual has the right to pur­sue eco­nomic ad­vance­ment. School ad­min­is­tra­tors can only do so much. They can try all forms of re­ten­tion strate­gies. Peo­ple Man­agers may even ex­per­i­ment on the mix­ture of their hard and soft pow­ers if only to lessen the turnover of teach­ers. Still, if a teacher leaves, that’s it . . . what can we do?

I once heard of an ac­cred­i­tor (name of ac­cred­it­ing agency with­held) who is fond of im­ply­ing that “a school is prob­lem­atic be­cause its teach­ers are leav­ing.” At the very least we can only check the data from exit in­ter­views. If given the free­hand, how­ever, I would like to ask this ac­cred­i­tor point blank the se­cret of his school that made its teach­ers believe that it is a per­fect paradise to live or even die for.*

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