MANILA, Sept 7 (Mabuhay) — Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte underscored on Tuesday her admiration and respect for the unwavering dedication of teachers, in celebration of the National Teachers’ month.

WAITING AREA. Students’ parents and guardians wait for their children outside the gate of Delfin Geraldez Elementary School on Salvia Street, Novaliches-Fairview in Quezon City on Tuesday (Sept. 6, 2022). For security reasons, school personnel only send home students who have a parent or guardian to fetch them outside the school grounds. (MNS photo)

In a statement, Duterte highly regarded their flexibility for the sake of learners, citing their extra effort to ensure learning deliveries, in coordination with the local government units and other health authorities since the onset of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Our teachers deserve respect and admiration for their undying dedication to guiding and helping our learners, parents, and guardians when the whole world had to shift to home learning drastically because of the pandemic,” she said.

She noted that these sacrifices include their resilience after storms, earthquakes, floods, and other calamities, even those teachers in remote areas.

“Hindi po biro ang mga hamon na hinaharap ng sektor ng edukasyon ngayon. Alam ko ang hirap, pagod, at mga sakripisyo ng mga guro nasa public school man o nasa private school, lalong-lalo na ang mga nagsisilbi sa mga malalayo at liblib na lugar (The challenge faced by the education sector is not that easy. I know the teachers’ hardships, exhaustion, and sacrifices, whether in public schools or private schools, most especially those serving in far-flung and remote areas),” she added.

Duterte said honoring teachers is also of personal value, as she believes that their role is very vital for preparing the Filipino youth.

“My great grandmother, Fortunata Gonzales-Roa, served as a public school teacher at the Cabadbaran South Central Elementary School in Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte for many years. The mother of former President Rodrigo Duterte, our lola, Soledad Roa Duterte, was an educator herself who put up a school for Lumad children in Davao City when she was still alive. And, as a child, I could still remember the many times I sat at the table with my mother, Elizabeth, to check the test papers of her students in the Philippine Women’s College in Davao,” she recalled.

Teachers’ rights

Alongside the celebration, the Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) used the opportunity to call on authorities to immediately push for the reform of policies.

“Higit sa anumang masaya at malapistang aktibidad, higit na mararamadaman ng mga guro ang pagpapahalaga kung ito ay maitatransporma sa mga polisiya ng estado. Matagal nang nagdurusa ang mg guro sa mababang pasahod, mabigat na trabaho, kawalan ng mga benepisyo, palpak na sistema ng GSIS, hindi pagpapatupad ng Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (More than the happiness and festive activity, the teachers will truly feel valued if the state policies will be transformed),” TDC chairperson Benjo Basas said.

Duterte assured the DepEd will take action on their calls and needs.

“Ang Kagawaran ay magsusumikap sa pagtuon sa mga hinaing at mga pangangailangan ng ating mga guro. Pagmamahal, respeto, at suporta (The DepEd will strive to respond to the calls and needs of the teachers. Love, respect, and support),” she said.

She said the “future belongs to the youth” but the teacher plays a crucial role in their character.

“Sinasalamin ninyo ang tibay at puso ng ating bansang Pilipinas (You mirror the strength and heart of our Philippine nation) The future belongs to the youth, but without our teachers, what kind of future could this be?” she said.

National teacher’s month will run until October 5. (MNS)