CO-SPONSORSHIP SPEECH on Strengthening the Teachers Education Council
Mr. President and my esteemed colleagues:
It is an honor and privilege to co-sponsor Senate Bill No. 2152 under Committee Report No. 252 or the ‘Teacher Education Council Act.’
But first, please let me recognize the hard work of our seatmate, the Chairman of the Committee on Basic Education, Senator Win Gatchalian, for spearheading extensive consultations and in-depth discussions on this measure, especially during the month-long TWG last February.
Teaching is said to be the noblest profession because, without it, we will not have lawyers, doctors, front liners, engineers, or even policymakers like us.
As a son of former public-school teachers, Bro. Eddie and Sis. Dory, I am pleased to co-sponsor this measure that seeks to improve the state of more than one (1) million teachers and school leaders in the country.
William Arthur Ward differentiates at least four (4) kinds of teacher, and I quote: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. And, the great teacher inspires.” We can teach teachers the first three competencies, but only practice and experience can hone the fourth competency.
We agree that personal factors like motivation and education can determine whether a teacher would become mediocre, good, superior, or inspiring, but we submit that education policies and institutions significantly affect these factors.
Our institutions must enact responsive and coherent teacher education policies if we want great and inspiring teachers. Unfortunately, our institutions continue to work in silos. Our policies are fragmented and disjointed, and our efforts are uncoordinated, even conflicting.
Our three education agencies crafted their strategies for learning continuity amid the pandemic separately and specific to their traditional programs. The use of different terminologies for learning methodologies and the differences in the approaches taken by the DepEd, the CHED, and the TESDA, resulted in confusion among millions of learners in the country, as well as to their parents and teachers.
The educational needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic shed more light on our dismal pre-pandemic educational situation and give form and shape to the bill we are proposing. It is a grave necessity to strengthen the Teacher Education Council.
Mr. President and my esteemed colleagues:
In addition to what, our chair,Senator Win has already presented, I beseech your indulgence to let me highlight three (3) reasons more, why we believe this bill can make all the difference in attaining better post-Corona schools and in improving teachers’ and school leaders’ effectiveness.
First, strengthening the Teacher Education Council will help synchronize standards in teacher education and development.
Let me show you a diagram of the professional journey of a Filipino teacher. It consists of at least three major phases: pre-service training, Licensure Examination for Teachers or LET, and in-service training. Common sense dictates that these three stages should follow a coherent standard, but they do not. There are misalignments in teacher pre-service training and what our schools and students need.
The CHED promulgates policies, standards, and guidelines (PSGs), to which Teacher Education Institutions in the country must strictly adhere. The DepEd enforces compliance with the Philippine Professional Standards for Teachers or PPST.” The Board of Professional Teachers in the PRC has a separate Table of Specifications for the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET). During that hearings, we discovered that the TOS does not reflect CHED and DepEd standards.
A study of the Research Center for Teacher Quality, a joint undertaking of the Philippine Normal University and the University of New England, Australia, shows that the teacher education curriculum fully covers only 10 out of the 37 competencies expected of teachers. Re-training of teachers, which is a very costly undertaking for the DepEd and the government, is necessary.
For example, the in-service training program called Linking Standards and Quality Practices or LiSQuP that DepEd and PNU jointly implement for training 2,820 teachers and school leaders cost the government around 400-million pesos, which is just a reasonable amount considering that the program will last for two years. However, the first batch of cohort represents only .353% of the total 800,000 teaching personnel of DepEd. Imagine the cost of re-training all DepEd teachers only to link standards with practice. Consider the resources we can save if our Colleges of Education that already benefit from the Free Tuition Law could satisfy the requirements of DepEd for entry level-teachers.
Under Senate Bill No. 2152, the new TEC will serve as a venue, mechanism, and keeper of synchrony and standards for teacher education and development. The CHED, the PRC, the DepEd, and the TESDA will have to agree on coherent professional standards for teachers. The new TEC will ensure that the Colleges of Education will produce teachers, duly screened and accredited by the PRC, as our public schools need.
Our second point, Mr. President and my esteemed colleagues: Strengthening the TEC can help improve learning outcomes.
The creation of the Teacher Education Council [R.A. 7784], together with the CHED [R.A. 7722], the TESDA [R.A. 7796], the Teachers’ Professionalization Law [R.A. 7836] in 1994, and much later on, the Governance of Basic Education Act [RA 9155] in 2001, were policy recommendations of the Education Commission of 1991, a legacy of former Senator, our mentor, Sen. Edgardo Angara, father of our colleague Sen. Sonny, who is equally eloquent as his father, especially when it comes to matters affecting our education system.
The Teacher Education Council was born in the same year as the CHED and the TESDA to serve as the maestro in teacher development. However, the growth in the DepEd, the TESDA, the CHED, and the PRC mandate and resources isolated the TEC. Bureaucratic turfing resulted in fragmentation and de-synchronization, as the agencies worked independently and separately for teacher education and development. The disarray was detrimental to the overall quality of education in the country.
"The educational needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic shed more light on our dismal pre-pandemic educational situation and give form and shape to the bill we are proposing. It is a grave necessity to strengthen the Teacher Education Council."
The results of the pre-pandemic international assessments like PISA, TIMMS, and SEA-PLM on the performance of Filipino students in Reading, Science, and Math, which was the subject of a Privilege Speech by Senator Win early this year, show what our Basic Education curriculum lacks as well as the professional weaknesses of our teachers.
Mr. President, radical reform in teacher education is an urgent need. The McKinsey survey of education systems across 50 countries in 2017 noted that it had "never seen an education system achieve a world-class status without top talents in its teaching profession." Teachers and school leaders count in affecting education quality.
Senate Bill No. 2152 seeks to expand the membership of TEC to include school leader representatives, strengthen the link between pre-service and in-service education programs, and institutionalize the National Educators Academy of the Philippines or NEAP for the in-service training of teachers, among others.
Last but not the least, our third point, Mr. President and my esteemed colleagues: Strengthening the TEC will improve the notoriously low passing rates in the LET.
The problem is the quality of our teachers and begins with our Teacher Education Institutions or TEIs. We have excellent TEIs in the country, but only 113 out of 1,600 colleges of education from Luzon to Mindanao are centers of excellence. Forty-three (43) provinces do not have CENTEXes or universities with autonomous and deregulated status.
The majority of our teacher trainees enroll in colleges of education which are, in the words of the Philippine Business for Education or PBED, “poor performing” and “worst performing.” If you look at the statistics from the CHED, teacher education is the third most subscribed course at the tertiary level. Almost 800,000 or 19% of our college students enroll in various teacher education programs, both public and private.
There is no better evidence of the poor quality of our teacher training institutions than the notoriously low passing rates in the Licensure Examination for Teachers. Only 3 out of 10 examinees pass the LET. In 2019, out of the 386,840 aspiring teachers, only 125,082, or a mere 32%, passed. This data applies not only in pre-pandemic 2019 but also over the past decade. From 2009 to 2019, several TEIs even obtained zero percent passing rates.
Mr. President, Senate Bill No. 2152 will empower the TEC to mandate minimum requirements for teacher education programs, monitor, and assure quality compliance through the CHED. Senate Bill No. 2152 will ensure an efficient, seamless, and transparent link between outcomes of teacher education programs and the professional standards for teachers.
Moreover, it will also empower the TEC to co-design the LET with the PRC. The bill guarantees transparency in the conduct of the Licensure Examination for Teachers through the release of the most recent LET questions immediately after their administration by the PRC to the Teacher Education Council and the public.
After one year of school closures, we realized that perhaps no other sector sits closer to ground zero of the COVID-19 pandemic than education. The World Bank claimed that across the globe, “evidence is emerging to show that school closures have resulted in actual learning loss or a ‘COVID slide.’”
Our schools can be better than pre-COVID schools. We can not afford to go back to our 2019 performance levels. But how can we develop better schools amidst all the chaos and uncertainties? Studies emphasize one important recommendation, that is, improving the effectiveness of teachers and school leaders, which is the foundation of our proposal to strengthen the Teacher Education Council.
Great teachers are inspiring because they are effective role models with professional, intellectual, psychological, and moral ascendency. Many of our teachers and school leaders can prove that teacher effectiveness is the key to improve learning outcomes. Take, for example, Teacher Florence Legaspi-Calawod, an English teacher at Looc National High School in Romblon.
Last year, amid the pandemic, she obtained the Regional Best Research in MIMAROPA for her research entitled “Fluency-Oriented Reading and Scaffolding: A Classroom-Based Intervention for the Student’s Reading Fluency and Comprehension.”
Her action research is a synthesis of her experience in using modeled reading that significantly improved students’ reading fluency and comprehension, one of the components of the PISA, where Filipino students ranked at the bottom of 77 countries. She told us that through this approach, students who once displayed indifference towards reading showed marked improvement and interest.
Indeed, because of her growth mindset, non-stop desire to make herself better, and the mentoring and support she gets from her school leaders, Teacher Florence bridged her students’ actual reading ability and the expected learning outcomes of DepEd.
Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, this is the vision of Senate Bill No. 2152, to produce effective teachers like Teacher Florence who help students fall in love with learning and attain quality learning outcomes. A relevant and empowered Teacher Education Council can make this vision a reality.
Mabuhay ang gurong Pilipino. Salamat po at pagpalain tayong lahat ng ating Panginoong Diyos.