Passion for quality education
What would it take for a 21-year-old cum laude graduate to forgo a financially rewarding corporate job in pursuit of a low-paying career in teaching?
“Poverty and passion,” says Bea Santos, a fresh Bachelor of Arts in English graduate of the University of the East.
Santos saw firsthand poverty’s impact on her own family and the rest of her community. Her father is a delivery man, her mother died before her high school graduation.
With her father’s meager salary, Santos and her siblings relied on scholarship grants to pursue their studies.
Santos considers herself lucky for getting scholarship grants and receiving quality education. She laments that not everyone is as fortunate.
In the 2013-2014 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness report, the Philippines ranked 96th out of 148 countries in terms of access to and quality of primary education.
It was fifth in the world in terms of dropout rates—after India, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Nigeria—according to a 2013 report of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
“I believe that education is the most effective counterbalance to the forces of poverty. These days, only a few seem to enjoy quality education. This shouldn’t be the case,” Santos said.
The aspiring teacher believes one solution to the declining quality of Philippine education is improving teacher quality.
“I want to see Filipino teachers staying in the country to share their expertise and improve their fellow citizens’ lives. Quality from the country, quality for the country.”
With this in mind, Santos is embarking on a journey to become the best teacher that she can be. She is now enrolled in the University of Santo Tomas’ Certificate in Teaching Program (CTP), an 18-unit track that allows college graduates to take the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET), a prerequisite to joining the public school system.
Santos is completing the CTP via the Scholarships in Teacher Education Program to Upgrade Teacher Quality in the Philippines (Step Up) program.
Funded by the Australian government and administered by the Philippine Business for Education, Step Up is a full scholarship program that aims to produce 1,000 quality teachers by 2019.
“I found out about Step Up through the DepEd (Department of Education) website. I went through the process and received a text message that said I passed. It had me jumping just like when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve!” Santos said.
CTP classes are held once a week (every Saturday) for one year, allowing Santos to work as a review center teacher, even as she receives monthly benefits as a Step Up scholar.
Santos, who hopes to complete the CTP at the soonest possible time, sees herself 10 years from now as a tenured public school teacher completing her doctorate degree.
“I also want to be a professional researcher in education. But I would really focus on teaching. I will stay in the Philippines after graduating and passing the LET. Why would I leave? I know I am needed here.”
As a teacher, she expects to be strict.
“I want to inculcate discipline and perseverance among my students,” she said. “Discipline and perseverance account for all the success [people have] achieved.”
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