Villanueva: Improve teacher quality to reverse impacts of pandemic to 'generation quarantine'

Senator Joel Villanueva stressed on Wednesday, May 19, the need to improve quality of teaching in the Philippines.

Teachers deliver lessons through multiple learning modalities this school year. (ALVIN KASIBAN/MANILA BULLETIN)

The chairman of the Senate higher education committee called for a passage of "major education reform bill" for teacher quality “if we are to reverse the heavy damage wrought by the pandemic on the education of our young.”

Improving teacher education, skills, and proficiency is a must for the Philippines “to navigate a changed and challenging post COVID-19 world," Villanueva said.

“As we talk about the future, the focus should not just be on infrastructure but most importantly on instruction. Yes, we need wired schools, but we must not forget that all these physical advantages will be cancelled if there are no wise teachers,” he pointed out.

“The so-called 'COVID slide' will make our children COVID-19 long haulers, with experts warning that many in the ‘Gen Q’ or Generation Quarantine having learned not enough will end up as adults earning not enough,” he warned.

Villanueva co-sponsored last Monday, May 17, Senate Bill No. 2152, which seeks to strengthen the Teacher Education Council (TEC), to "serve as a responsive coordinating institution" for the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), and the Department of Education (DepEd) on teacher education.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, head of the Senate basic education committee, is the main sponsor of the bill.

“A reinforced and reoriented TEC will serve as the command center that will direct all programs aimed at producing better teachers,” Villanueva said in his statement.

Strengthening the TEC, he said, would also address the low passing rates in the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET).

“Only three out of 10 examinees pass the LET. In 2019, out of the 386,840 aspiring teachers, only 125,082, or a mere 32 percent, passed,” he said.

"Majority of schools offering education courses are classified as poor performing. From 2009 to 2019, several colleges obtained zero percent passing rates," he further lamented.

He said this negatively impacts the learner, “and we have test results to prove it."

“But let me make it clear that this is one of many reasons for such. It is unfair and incorrect to solely blame teacher education.”

He said improving the educational system “is like a course with many subjects, and teacher development is but one of the many.”

“But we have to do our homework now. 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,” Villanueva said.