Maids Work to
Teach, Teachers Work as Maids
(First of three parts)
Teachers who are supposed to supply the brain – so to speak –
for the country’s youth are themselves part of the brain drain. The
country produces enough of these professionals to arrest the worsening
teaching shortage but more and more of them go abroad – or stay in the
country – to work as housemaids.
By Carl Marc
Teachers who are supposed to supply the brain – so to speak – for the
country’s youth are themselves part of the brain drain. The country
produces enough of these professionals to arrest the worsening teaching
shortage but more and more of them go abroad – or stay in the country – to
work as housemaids.
In the Philippines,
Teacher Education is the second most popular college program. Every school
year, more than 400,000 college hopefuls aspire to become teachers.
Yet the education
sector suffers from a severe shortage of teachers. This year alone, the
country lacked some 38,535 teachers. And the figure is projected to reach
49,699 in the coming school year.
Practically almost all tertiary or college level institutions in the
country offer a degree in Teacher Education. From school years 1994-1995
to 2001-2002, enrolment for Education and Teacher Training went up by
46.20 percent – numbering 439,549 in 2001.
However, records of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) show that
only a fraction among the thousands who flock to Teacher Education are
able to attain their dream profession. Specifically, only a little more
than a 100,000 education students reach the fourth year.
And of the more than
100,000 who graduate, only a few pass the licensure exams. The 2003
Licensure Examinations for Teachers (LET) only registered a 26 percent
passing rate – or conservatively, 26,000 - in both elementary and
secondary education. This is a far cry from the number of those who enroll
every year (at least 400,000); it represents only 25 percent of those who
But this is where the
bigger frustration arises: Many of those who manage to pass the LET do not
actually teach in the country. Some of them eventually abandon their
profession in favor of jobs that are available here or abroad.
This makes the
education sector one of the major professions severely hit by the
decades-old brain drain in the country. Reports show that of the current
crop of teachers, the best and the brightest are now teaching abroad. Many
of them are also leaving to work as domestics in other countries.
Those who cannot leave – including many from the provinces who are LET
qualifiers – end up working as maids in Metro Manila households.
Teachers going abroad
Lack of attractive job opportunities in the country make many teachers
vulnerable to piracy abroad. Labor officials admitted that in 2002 many
teachers from Cebu were recruited to teach in schools in Compton in Los
Angeles, southern California. San
Bernardino, also in
Los Angeles, hired 41 Philippine teachers;
had 50 and Compton, 58.
Another destination is Texas
where, for the last three years many schoolteachers from Metro Manila who
have master's degrees, have been sent to teach.
Each year, U.S. school districts need to hire around 200,000 teachers. So
high is the demand that private recruiters plan to place at least a
million foreign teachers in American classrooms until 2007.
This is not the whole picture however as far as Filipino
teachers are concerned. More strikingly is that a bigger number of them
are giving up their jobs and prestige in the Philippines in order to work
as housemaids abroad.
Reports by Migrante International show that some 20 percent of the
estimated 160,000 Filipinos working as domestics in Hong Kong,
Singapore and countries in the
Middle East, were former teachers
or at least had a teaching background before going abroad.
administrations and education department officials attest to the fact that
a big number of licensed teachers are working abroad as domestics. In
1998, for instance, then President Fidel Ramos launched a program to lure
back teachers who had become domestic helpers promising to improve their
Macapagal-Arroyo’s first education secretary, Raul Roco, went to Hong Kong
to convince about 300 overseas workers, mostly domestics, to return to
their old teaching jobs in the Philippines.
few may have taken the bait, making government efforts pointless. The
worsening employment scenario, stagnant salary and other economic woes are
even more pushing some 2,800 Filipinos farther away and fly abroad
everyday, among them teachers destined to work as househelp or domestics.
Still, the long, tedious and costly application process and tighter
policies governing foreign contract workers in other countries have
prevented many Filipino teachers from working overseas. Some Teacher
Education graduates especially from the provinces would just have to be
contented working as housemaids in their own country. Bulatlat
Dim for Education Graduate
(Second of three parts)
Education: A Low
(Last of 3 parts)
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© 2004 Bulatlat
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