• The Pasig Review

Back to school in the new normal

From the Desk | Photo from Teach for the Philippines

If not for this pandemic, the school year would have started in the middle of June with the first quarterly exams scheduled sometime this month. This global health crisis, indeed, reminded us repeatedly how unprepared we are and unassuming diseases are as it crept in our very doors.

Nevertheless, as they say life goes on and it must! We cannot afford to stop our activities for fear of plunging more ourselves into this pit where light seemed to be elusive. Such is the case for some school teachers in Pasig City. While Mayor Vico Sotto already promised a more bearable school year for public school students by providing electronic gadgets for online learning, the question still remains unanswered on the survival of teachers as their lives remain at stake.

TPR delved into the lives of some of these educators cum frontliners. We have seen their plight and how they go to their respective schools to ensure that your children remain at school”. It has been tough literally surviving the world’s longest and most problematic lockdown and teachers are hungry – they are after all humans with a family to feed. Treating their Individual Performance Commitment and Review Form (IPCRF) as hostages in order for them to be forced to report to their schools at the middle of the pandemic is uncalled for.

We are exposing our educators to a stealth enemy who has claimed so many lives and yet never showed its true face. The IPCRF is an assessment tool of the government to rate the task a teacher accomplished for a year – in short this is a tool for the performance based bonus, something which we all need to survive this crisis.

To add insult to injury, some teachers overheard their co-teachers saying “o ayan ha at your own risk yan. Di kayo pinapunta” (in order for IPCRF Forms to be accomplished, one must report physically to their school). Hearing such words being uttered by your own kind is synonymous to slaves flogging and torturing slaves. After a day’s work, you will be handed over a waiver that needs to be signed. Some even thought that these waivers are meant for the DepEd to wash hands in case of infections brought about by teachers being exposed to Covid 19-strickened community.

Private school teachers share a near identical situation. Some of them, based on reports from the TPR have not been receiving monthly salaries as the school year is still clouded with uncertainty. With a mass exodus of parents removing their children from private schools because of obvious Covid-related reasons, an imbalance is indeed occurring endangering private institutions. Some private schools in Pasig are so unprepared they gained the ire of netizens who hurl hurtful comments and sometimes senseless ones in the schools’ Facebook accounts. Despite the long history of the school’s academic excellence and generations of great Pasiguenos it produced, it took only 4 months in turning lovers into haters. Teachers are once again hanging by a thread.

We are on survival mode nowadays, set aside careers and professions, everyone needs to be accorded the same respect as that of a human being that fights to be alive. International think tanks already anticipate psychological aftershocks after this pandemic and as the world plunges more to starvation and massive chain reactions that affect all angles of human life, one must think of ways to make these bearable. As we say poetically during Teachers’ Day that Teachers are the greatest influencers, we can’t imagine our children being taught by traumatized teachers - a victim of the “times”.

Though these happenings may be microscopic and may actually be more of a personality issue than a systemic one, we still need to be reminded of this reality in order for us to understand where our second parents come from. We will never understand what’s going on with their mind, but we are all sure that human beings have a stomach to fill and a brain to stimulate to function and achieve productivity.

So the next time you see a teacher online selling products, don’t insult or belittle them. They are earning a good and honest living. The next time you see a teacher online needing some help, stop pitying and start helping. Let us bring back the Bayanihan Spirit, this is after all the same candor and warmth that brought Pasig into the map.

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