IN THE not-so-recent-past, I was visited by my mentor… a retired regional director of the Department of Education (DepEd). He was popjoyed to know that I am again working as consultant on Sociology for Silay City after I retired as tourism officer.
He missed Silay so much, his second home away from home. We ended at his favorite coffee shop at the side of the public market. He ordered for “ibos” and “but-ong” to match the native coffee. We had a lengthy conversation… politics, peace and order, illegal drugs, economics, but the main focus is on public education. He bewailed the fate of some teachers who are victims of their abusive superiors.
“I know all about the abuses because I was once a classroom teacher, a principal, and a superintendent before I became regional director. I fought hard against the bad elements in the system. I was even tagged as an activist because I collided with my superiors on the way up. Justice is slow but I had the last smile. I have my personal biases as an administrator but they should not hinder fair judgment.”
He told me the case of a superintendent in his region. “He was running his division as if it was his business company. He was not considering the qualifications of the applicants. He favored those applicants who could not afford to say no to what he wanted. He had frozen some positions while waiting for his puppies to be qualified. He filed cases to those who disagreed with him. He loved to see crying teachers leaving his office.”
“One day, I received a not-so-romantic letter from his teacher. I had his case investigated and I found out the truth. I told him to reform and render justice to his teachers. He did not listen to me. He relied on his politician friends. He preferred to be stupid. I did not pray that evil will come to him but some did. One late afternoon, a man with a mask entered his office and stabbed him.”
There was this principal also who obliged her teachers to let the students contribute for this and for that. She was charging graduation fees. There was no proper accounting. The parents went to the town mayor and her monkey business was brought to my attention. I sent DepEd lawyers to investigate her case. The Commission on Audit found out also that she was conniving with contractors in government projects in her school. She faces criminal and administrative charges. She was found guilty and was dismissed from office. Her criminal case is in progress. She lost her big house and many friends.”
“Our education system now is getting complicated because of the K to 12 Program. Some schools do not have trained teachers to handle the Senior High School. Many schools do not have enough classrooms. The government is just starting to construct new buildings that could have been started a year ago. I sympathize with teachers who are holding two-session classes and to teachers who handle classes inside the hot tents or in covered courts with plywood partition.”
“With this situation, not even a miracle can make our students learn. Education always requires a venue conducive to teaching and learning. Our teachers cannot afford to shout for eight hours. Our students cannot stay longer inside the oven toaster. We are giving our students and teachers gradual death. This situation is going to last for one year or even more. We always have many good teachers and principals but they only have one life.”
“I hope that our DepEd officials will always follow their calling. They should not raise money at the expense of the students, teachers and parents. DepEd officials at the regional and division levels should make themselves models. We do not expect them to torment teachers who are complaining about their bad management. I favor educators to join teachers’ union just like what Iloilo teachers are doing. The union can always remind DepEd what is legal and can work for our other benefits within the law.”
“Just like you, we were once teachers and we will always be teachers. Teaching is the most gratifying and most honorable profession. We see our students grow and later take their role in society. They are our future political leaders, economic managers, skilled workers, and community builders. We do not want to destroy their bright future because some people in DepEd are cruel and corrupt.”
“We do not want the next generation to condemn their education because some regional directors, superintendents, principals and teachers have horns. Good leadership and harmony start in the DepEd Family. We cannot afford to send someone in the family to jail or be dismissed from the profession. Our superior simply needs to be just and it should be up to the letter.”