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Urgent need to invest in quality teacher education – EDCOM 2, World Bank


“Quality learning is contingent upon quality teaching. If we can spend billions on missiles and submarines, why don’t we spend on this program for teacher education?”, says EDCOM 2 Chairperson on the Sub-committee on Teacher Education Senator Koko Pimentel during an online symposium on teacher education held June 05, 2024. 

The Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM 2) and World Bank discussed the urgent need to invest in quality teacher education and actions to address the prevailing concerns on pre-service teacher programs in the country, including quality assurance. 

This event was organized in collaboration with the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, Philippine Business for Education, and the World Bank Philippine Country office. 

EDCOM 2 Co-chairperson Congressman Roman Romulo, PIDS President Dr. Ancieto Orbeta, Jr., EDCOM 2 Standing Committee Members Dr. Jennie Jocson and Dr. Mel Oracion were also present in the said symposium. DepEd officials were also in attendance, led by Teacher Education Council Executive Director Runvi Manguera, and DepEd Directors Jennifer Lopez and Leila Areola.

Underperforming TEIs

“Teacher education and development in the Philippines faces serious challenges, including underperforming teaching education institutions (TEIs). This fact is exemplified by the very low passing rates in professional board examinations, which are lower than those of other professions. Such statistics underscore the urgent need for reform and improvement in our TEIs to ensure that they produce highly competent and effective teachers critical for student learning,” says PIDS President Orbeta. 

Data shows that performance in teacher licensure examinations has been dismal, hovering at an average passing rate of 33% for elementary and 40% for secondary. 

“What is worse is that based on our analysis, between 2012 to 2022, many higher education institutions (HEIs) or teacher education providers— 77 offering Bachelor of Elementary Education, and 105 offering Bachelor of Secondary Education, continued to operate despite having zero passing rates. This calls for improved quality assurance among our HEIs,” says EDCOM II Executive Director Karol Mark Yee. 

ED Yee also shared EDCOM 2’s findings on the misalignments in pre-service training and in-service subjects taught. Citing sample hiring posts, specializations needed by schools are not included in job postings for teacher items, and teachers may be assigned to teach subjects that they did not specialize in during pre-service. 

“On top of these challenges, our schools do not have a formal mechanism to report their specific teaching staff needs, with current practices in determining teacher plantilla positions not considering specific teacher specialization requirements of schools”,” added Executive Director Yee. 

Investing in teacher education

Education Specialists from the World Bank shared the range of support needed to strengthen the teacher profession and make it more sustainable. This would include initiatives to attract future teachers, high-quality initial teacher education offering multiple pathways, systems for hiring and deployment, induction, and offering in-service programs for continuous professional development and leadership and flexible career pathways. 

They further emphasized the importance of investing in pre-service training that will allow teachers to have strong foundational knowledge and skills for effective professional development. 

An important part of pre-service programs is practice-based training; these experiential learning courses are crucial as they allow students to develop their pedagogical skills and provide teachers with experience managing classes and interacting with learners. 

However, in the Philippines, the Commission on Higher Education Policies, Standards, and Guidelines require only a minimum of six Field Studies units and six Practice Teaching or Teaching Internship units. According to the World Bank, the practicum in the Philippines is too short, and that there is at least a six-month practicum for prospective primary and secondary teachers in some of the top-performing countries like Finland, or Shanghai, China. 

“Perhaps we can be more deliberate in threading the different components of the teacher preparation program. For example, in pre-service, the different courses can also be recognized. We have courses for pedagogy, but the strategies may not necessarily be targeted to specific disciplines,” says EDCOM 2 Standing Committee Member Dr Mel Oracion, further emphasizing the need for a coordinated approach for all interventions on teacher education. 

One of the best practices the group is eager to further explore is implementing a mentor-teacher program. The proposal is to assess the performance of teachers and identify those who can potentially mentor their fellow teachers, especially the new ones. 

Senator Pimentel mentioned the need for a budget to support this proposed initiative so that incentives can be provided to volunteer teachers who are objectively assessed to become  mentors. 

The World Bank Education Specialists also shared various models and approaches to assure the quality of both institutions/programs and TEI entrants. 

EDCOM 2 commits to study these recommendations further.  “We are fortunate to be guided by experts globally and, of course, experts from our very own institutions. EDCOM 2 will explore these ideas and integrate these in our assessments,” says Yee. 

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