By Alithea De Jesus
Taking seriously the wisdom from Confucius who said, “If your plan is for one-year plant rice. If your plan is for ten years plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years educate children.”
Perhaps, this is what is in the minds 0f these dedicated Filipino teachers who want to leave their legacy in the field of education in the midst of the pandemic. Given the current situation wherein community quarantine is in place, social distancing calls for limited physical interaction, and this is what is truly challenging in the new normal that must be dealt with properly.
But truly, if there is a will there is always a way. Thus, the unyielding commitment and drive of those at the frontlines of education, the Filipino teachers are truly commendable. Even if the academic community is facing numerous challenges in preparation for the school year 2020-2021, our teachers remain passionate about providing quality basic education to their students.
Putting Students First
In Cagayan National High School, Master Teacher Enrique Garcia remains committed to learning continuity during the pandemic.
Like many others, Mr. Garcia received training through webinars for distance learning. This prepares him and many others for the potential challenges that might come during the school year.
“Last April, when we were still under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), I took the initiative to come up with self-paced modules. I thought of coming up with modules because this is one way I could help my students for the coming school year,” said Garcia.
According to Mr. Garcia, he spends his time collaborating with school leaders and his fellow teachers to create efficient class programs that will help the school adapt to the new normal. He also often meets with his colleagues virtually to discuss appropriate and effective learning delivery modalities for the upcoming school year.
Mr. Garcia (middle) in one of the seminars he attended
Mr. Garcia goes the extra mile by putting his students first and considering what learning delivery modality is apt for each of them. “I have to consider those who have the resources and those who have limited resources. After all, I cannot utilize a one-size-fits-all scheme. I deeply understand that my students are as diverse as the dreams their hearts have known.”
Teachers like Mr. Garcia exemplify DepEd’s resolve by remaining committed to delivering education amidst the pandemic.
The Pride of Panay Bukidnon Tribe
Interestingly, another teacher, Mr. Argy Catolin of Aglonok Primary School Iloilo, is dubbed as a modern-day hero during these unprecedented times. Mr. Catolin is a proud member of the Panay Bukidnon Tribe, which inspired him to teach as a way to make education accessible to his kin.
Even before the pandemic, Mr. Catolin has been going above and beyond to teach the students in Barangay Cahigon, Calinog, Iloilo. Due to the geographical conditions, students and teachers alike need to take a 2-hour motorcycle ride and a 3-hour walk to reach Aglonok Primary School. Nevertheless, these challenges didn’t stop Mr. Catolin. “Teaching is about inspiring others,” Mr. Catolin reiterates. He is fueled by his passion to touch the lives of his students and influence their future.
With the on-going pandemic, Mr. Catolin admits that students and teachers will face more difficulties in learning. The lack of electricity and reception in their area poses challenges in the upcoming school year. Recognizing the limitations of their area, his school has opted to utilize modular distance learning.
Mr. Catolin’s first general assembly with parents and learners last school year 2019-2020
Despite the challenges they may face, teachers and parents at the Aglonok Primary School work together to make sure that students can adapt to the new normal in education. “In our case in upland areas, we always give our best in helping our pupils. We did it before the pandemic through the Adopt-a-Child Program,” Mr. Catolin shared. “In the new normal, we can help our students by providing learning materials and we can help our parents by providing accurate information regarding the new normal setting.”
“This pandemic affects everything all over the world.” Mr. Catolin said. “Until there’s no vaccine we have to deal with the new normal setting. Us teachers have to be equipped with a positive attitude towards this crisis.” Mr. Catolin also shared that it is only through the collective efforts of teachers, students, parents, and the Department of Education (DepEd) that they can make a difference during these difficult times.
Messrs. Garcia and Canolin are only two of the countless teachers who have their students’ best interests at heart and are working tirelessly to ensure that they still receive a quality education.
Both teachers insisted that learning must continue, even during this pandemic. Mr. Catolin believes that quality education can help reduce poverty, promote peace, and foster development in the community, which is why he is in favor of opening classes this year. “As a teacher, we have to be equipped with a positive attitude towards this crisis. Together, we can make a difference,” he said.
Likewise, Mr. Garcia supports the various learning continuity initiatives in place for the incoming school year. “Education must continue. It is through it that we develop informed, critical, creative, adaptive, flexible, strong-spirited, culturally-clipped, morally-upright, and happy citizenry.”
The resilience, passion, and commitment of these teachers during these trying times have become a source of inspiration for others. As the teachers prepare for SY 2020-2021, the Department of Education (DepEd) is keen on providing support for these modern-day heroes. This is in line with the Department’s unwavering commitment to working with Filipino teachers to deliver quality education despite the circumstances. The collective efforts of the academic community, as well as the Filipino spirit of Bayanihan, are what will ultimately make the incoming school year a success.