Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 11      April 24- 30, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











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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 Ramota

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 graduate.

Bigger pains

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; Inglewood 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.


Previous 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 pay scales.

President Gloria 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.

Only a 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

Related articles:

Future Looks Dim for Education Graduate (Second of three parts)

Education: A Low State Priority (Last of 3 parts)



© 2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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