Affordable housing for teachers mulled

October 5, 2011 10:06 pm 

By Faye P. Velasco

MANILA, Oct. 5 — The country’s public school teachers may soon avail themselves of affordable houses of their own as the Pag-IBIG Fund and the Department of Education are finalizing a housing program for them.

Vice President Jejomar Binay made the announcement on Wednesday at the World Teachers’ Day Celebration held at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.

”Teachers must (also) receive the full moral and physical support due their noble vocation. And I know that for our public school teachers in particular, there is much to do in this regard… I understand fully well the housing situation of most, if not all of our public school teachers and this is why I have decided to extend to you a program where you can avail yourselves of affordable housing through Pag-IBIG,” Binay said in his keynote address.

“Sa amin sa sektor ng pabahay, lagi naming sinasabi na sa sariling bahay nagsisimula ang magandang buhay. Sana sa programang ito, masimulan natin ang pagpapaganda sa buhay ng ating mga mahal na guro,” he added.

The Vice President also called on the teachers to join him in launching a "movement for national discipline that will set the hearts and minds of the young people on fire."

He said that as the great Albert Einstein once said, "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge," thus “Teaching is a mission. And teachers are evangelists.”

Binay noted though that the determination to produce inquiring, disciplined and critical minds is challenged everyday by the realities outside the classrooms — poverty, media, consumerism, and the internet.

”The importance of inculcating the value of dignity to our students is severely undermined by another harsh reality — our teachers who are expected to teach dignity ironically cannot maintain their dignity, since their salaries provide them with little option but to take on additional jobs or even work abroad as domestic helpers,” he said.

The Vice President also noted that the Philippine public education is now in dire straits, citing achievement levels of students in the basic and secondary schools are below global standards, and the budget cuts in state colleges and universities.

He also said that there is a need for the Philippine education system to be innovative and not just a copycat of western schools.

"Until now, we have been content to copy from the West. But not everything now is worth copying from the West. The time has come for us to think on our own, innovate, and learn what we can from our own neighbors in the East,” he said.

“But we have not really had enough time to consider in earnest the new direction our educational system must take — regardless of what resources we have or do not have — in order to allow us to go head-to-head with other countries with our comparative strengths and weaknesses. We have not really had the opportunity to do anything on our own,” he stressed.

He said China’s consuming obsession with education could be the first thing that should be imitated.

He noted that China expanded its native student population to at least 20 million by 2005, and sent tens of thousands of scholars for post-graduate studies to leading universities abroad, thus enlarging and upgrading its stock of human capital faster than any of its global competitors.

”From 1978 onward, Deng Xiaoping took a huge gamble when he opened up China to foreign investments and allowed Chinese scholars by the thousands to leave China for advanced studies abroad. There was the danger that many of them would not come back, or that they would, upon their return, bring to China foreign ideas inimical to and destructive of the Chinese system,” he said.

He added: “But they all came back, and their new knowledge powered China’s rise to global economic heights.“

Binay noted that patriotism, the sense of belonging to one’s own country, and refusing to exchange that country for any other place, is normally a function of one’s native culture but it can be strengthened by education.

”Where the culture has failed to engrave it upon the character of the people, a strong training in values could still give the young people a sense of patriotism,” he said. (PNA) DCT/scs/FPV

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