Paying Teachers Peanuts

Manila Bulletin, September 10, 2014 | Go to article overview

Paying Teachers Peanuts


One of lifes profound ironies is that our teachers are among the lowest paid workers in society. And yet teachers are among the keys to who we all are, who and what we become, what we impart to others, and what we leave to our communities and society at large. The American historian Henry Adams exulted in the role that teachers play in society and life. A teacher affects eternity, he said, adding that the influence of teachers on their students, and thus on society, never stops. What we learn from school, from the mouths of our teachers, we carry with us forever. Although it is said that we retain only a small percentage of what were taught in school, its often enough to get us by in the larger society. And those of us who were diligent learners surely keep a lot of what was taught them. Its not an exaggeration to say that we would never reach whatever status we are in in life without what we learned from the grades to college. Obviously we would never reach college without first going through the early levels of education. Thus, without our elementary and high school teachers, we would never have achieved what weve achieved in life. We owe so much to our teachers. But why do we pay them so little? Often many, if not most or all, schoolteachers have to have what we call a sideline to enable them to make both ends meet in their daily lives. And often, they have to borrow money, usually from usurers, just to get by. Teachers are among the most respected members of our communities. Not only because they impart wisdom to young minds, to the impressionable (which we all were in our youth), but because theyre presumed to be upright and trustworthy. Often in communities, teachers are ranked on the same level as the parish priest, the local judge, and (although not always) political leaders. They are respected and looked up to. So, again, why do we pay them so meager wages? Ergo doesnt have the answer and is as baffled as the rest in society who wrestle with the same question. Its one of lifes conundrums that we value our teachers and yet compensate them so scandalously poorly. There are many heroes among our teachers, the unstoppable ones who travel long distances daily, sometimes by foot, just to reach their respective schools. They plod through inhospitable terrain, rivers and mountains just to reach their wards. …

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