We just came across this article by Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros. Good to be reminded of the pivotal role teachers play in our society and the recognition they truly deserve.

titserOn the few but happy occasions that I see my elementary and high school classmates, who are often one and the same, talk drifts to the pranks we mounted on our hapless teachers and how the same teachers dealt with those who were caught in the act. We remembered those teachers well – to a man, woman, or priest – their foibles and their virtues, the names officially given to them by their parents and the names we secretly gave them for some characteristic or other. Most of them we recalled with fondness, especially the ones who, quite apart from the terror they filled our hearts with, also filled our minds with the light of learning.

I don’t know if that is a generational thing or not, or indeed if it is a provincial thing or not. I do know that the teachers of my time and place were held in high regard by our community. In my street, there was a widow who taught preschool in her house and drew a not very small class to it. It also subbed as some sort of day-care center. She lived to a ripe old age (she was already advanced in years when I was in elementary school) devoting pretty nearly all her life to her calling. People said she renewed her marriage vows only with her work after her husband died. When she died, poor if not entirely penniless, it wasn’t just our street that turned up at the wake and plunged into deep mourning.

I remembered these things in light of the project of the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) called “1000 Teachers Program,” which aims to recruit the country’s best and brightest to become teachers. The project aims to restore the luster in teaching, changing the public’s perception from “titser lang” to “titser ko, idol ko.” “In reality,” PBEd says, “teachers are not just teachers. They are classroom managers. They are chief operating officers of cramped classrooms with some of the most rowdy and academically challenged students.”

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