Teacher Education in the 21st Century; Challenges and Opportunities

Manila Bulletin, May 10, 2003 | Go to article overview

Teacher Education in the 21st Century; Challenges and Opportunities


PNUs status as the oldest teacher training institution in the country, which spans over a century, is a reality to celebrate. While it gladdens me enormously to steer further her growth to worldclass status, it also causes me some apprehensions in being to meet such a tall order as its new president since May last year. Nevertheless, I promised myself to do my very best in preserving vigorously the values and heritage of an institution that has carved its niche in the colorful history of Philippine education and has indelibly established its leadership in teacher education in the country. I also resolved to spearhead interventions and initiatives by squarely addressing todays challenge of institutional relevance and responsiveness.

PNU is an institution that has produced great educators since its establishment, and most of all, has upheld a legacy of teacher competence, dedication and commitment to develop a humane and thinking citizenry. Indeed, it has proven its leadership role in providing excellence in teacher education tested through time.

The challenge of preserving and living the legacy of PNU is further enhanced by extraordinary conditions of contemporary life as we enter a millennium marked by uncertainty and exponential social and environmental changes. The perennially large class-size in our schools poses unfavorable teacher-student ratio creating demands on teacher creativity and resourcefulness to enhance learning. The Department of Education Fact Sheet of 2002 shows an increasing trend in student enrollment for both elementary and secondary students from SY 1996-2002. Likewise, it is reported that there is an average teacher-student ratio of 1:38, specifically for public schools.

Even more disturbing are recent developments on teacher recruitment for overseas work, having serious repercussions on the Philippine education system, draining our own requirements for highlyqualified and competent teachers. With the dearth of educators in the US, we have experienced increased recruitment of Filipino teachers as reported by Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas. Filipino teachers are favored over other nationals because of their facility with the English language and teaching methods patterned after the American school system.

Although the basic processes of teaching and learning have not changed, the circumstances, context, and physical environment for learning have changed. Consider the increasing permeation of information and communication technology or more precisely the effect of multimedia on the student. The consciousness stream of the student is no longer so easy to capture and hold, as before, because of the pervasiveness of electronic media (radio, television, movies), the convenience of instantaneous and wireless communication like mobile phones (text) and e-mail, the addiction to game toys and PC network gaming. All the distractions of the modern world are occupying our youth's mental territory ahead of the educational processes.

Getting student attention, making a point in class, and engendering interest and curiosity become harder for todays teacher. It is not easy to inspire an already distracted mind. Education must compete with fashion trends, texting, electronic games, and other captivating distractions.

Leading students to a learning process of retracting the advances in human development requires more incisive explanations when so much technology is in the hands of students with its benefits and uses acquired at little cost and effort. It is easier for a student to be bored and eventually addicted to entertaining pastimes than to be interested in and constantly search for the new and the unknown.

At the same time, information and communication technology enables learning beyond the classroom walls. Every learner is exposed to a variety of media resource and fascinating presentations outside the classroom. Easy access to information and knowledge makes it necessary for teachers to focus on enabling students to acquire strategic skills in assessing, validating, socializing, developing and communicating new knowledge.

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