The Teaching License

Manila Bulletin, December 11, 2010 | Go to article overview
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The Teaching License


MANILA, Philippines - As we celebrate Education Week, we take stock of what the teaching profession has had for us and for our education clientele throughout the years.

Definitely, the most significant breakthrough of teaching as a profession was the enactment of RA 7836, "The Teachers' Professionalization Act of 1994." The whole education world had cause to rejoice upon promulgation of the law, for now the teaching profession was at par with the other 41 professions of the country. The Professional Regulation Commission had listed teaching as the 42nd profession in the Philippines. From hereon, nobody would engage in the profession without a license.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the law defined teaching as "the profession concerned primarily with classroom instruction at the elementary and secondary levels in accordance with the curriculum, prescribed by the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports whether on part-time or full-time basis in private or public schools."

And so, in this same column on September 20, 1998, we asked: "Is College Teaching a Profession?" As far as the law is concerned, where does college teaching come in? Are college instructors/professors not engaged in teaching?

It may be argued that some college instructors/professors are already licensed in their own respective fields, so that it would be a duplication if they had to get another license for teaching. And yet, a lawyer who wants to practice accounting has to take accounting subjects, obtain a degree, pass the accountancy board examination, and apply for an accountant's license separate and distinct from a lawyer's license. So with the accountant who wishes to go into law practice. Similarly, a registered nurse or licensed veterinarian who decides to pursue a career in medicine has to take courses in the field, consequently pass the medical board examinations, and apply for a license for the practice of medicine. For their part, doctors of medicine reveal in not so intimate conversations that due to the urgent need for nurses in the United States and elsewhere, many of their kind take up nursing, and subsequently obtain a license for the practice of the profession after complying with the needed requisites. Needless to state, medicine is a longer course and would be considered by many, with due respect to the nursing field, a more lofty profession not only in terms of length of study, but most of all in prestige, clientele, and practice. And yet, unlike the university professors in the teaching profession, doctors of medicine have to obtain a license for nursing both in the Philippines and in the US to be able to engage in the field.

For a time, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) launched a massive retraining of college faculty members who had not yet earned a master's degree, answering for the tuition and monthly stipend of all enrolees. This was to enable all concerned college instructors to comply with the past DEC memorandum requiring a master's degree for college teaching, which for all intents and purposes, the commission wanted to pursue.

Now, did this apply to all college professors?

Are members of the Conservatory of Music, College of Industrial Relations, College of Medicine, College of Arts and Letters, to name a few, college faculty members? And again, are they engaged in teaching and may, therefore, belong to the teaching profession? If so, don't they need a master's degree and a teaching license?

No, because the teaching license is only for the elementary and secondary school teacher, who like the college professor is engaged in teaching. This of course is like saying that an accountant's license is required only for those handling the books of accounts of the sari-sari stores or small-time entrepreneurs, but not for big-time multinational corporations. How would it look if a lawyer's license were required for practice only in the municipal and regional trial salas but no longer in the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court because those who practice in the higher courts are more knowledgeable and possess more wisdom, wit, and skills than those in the lower courts; or a nurse or a dentist who must be registered in order to qualify for the position of School Nurse or School Dentist, but may be accepted sans the required license, if he/she applies as a University Nurse or University Dentist in some tertiary level institution.

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