Pinay Wanderess / Life and Love  / Why I Left Public School After Four Years

Why I Left Public School After Four Years

I always get asked on why I left public school. Maybe because it is one of the most stable jobs in my home country, and when you’re a teacher, to be in a public school is one of the best end points.   

So whenever I am asked, I would always answer that it is because I am still young. I still want to explore, and I cannot see myself doing the same thing I’ve been doing since I was 21 (my age when I officially became a public school teacher, right after the university) until I am 65. But apart from the desire to explore life and the world, there is one more reason why I decided to leave the place I loved for four long years.

I love being a teacher. It is my calling and my passion, and I loved being a public school teacher. It was probably the noblest job that I have ever done in my entire life. This is where the real stories can be found. I loved how pure and genuine are the hearts of every single student I taught. Thee bond we created were priceless. They weren’t well off, but they were all generous of their love, care, and appreciation. I had bunch of my best days with them. I never had problems on teaching, even if teaching was not that convenient. In four years, I handled 50-70 students per class. I held a class inside a one-fan room using a blackboard and chalks. No smart boards, no projectors, no aircondition, no television, and no anything to make it conducive for learning. But those were fine, they all came in a package of teaching in a public school – that’s how it works.

I was genuinely happy being a public school teacher, but what I was not happy about was being a government employee.

The common misconception on being a public school teacher is the amount of compensation that we get. People think that we get enough. Some even thought that we get more than what we deserve. This is all wrong. A teacher 1 gets 18,000 php basic salary monthly, but the net income will only be around 16 to 17k/ month, and she’s lucky if there will be an allowance provided locally. The salary is once a month. For a single person like me, it was not a problem at all as I only had to think about my own expenses. But for those who have a family to feed, children to send to school, loans to pay; this is never enough. In public school teaching, you will never get a salary raise unless you get your graduate studies, which is not available to many, especially to those who already have a family and are struggling financially.

In four years, I saw how my co-teachers suffer in financial crisis. I saw how their faces lit up whenever there was a 1,300php allowance. I saw how they have slowly lost their fire in educating the youth, because they have to think about where to get the money to compensate their needs first. I saw how dragging the week before the salary was. I saw how others tried to make extra income to survive, from selling candies to students to making extra modules to get extra penny. I heard them curse the authority for every delayed allowance. I heard them cry.

And what I can only say is that they don’t deserve it. No one deserves it. They are great teachers, and you have no idea how difficult it is to be one in a public school. Teachers deserve better. I am really grateful because I am lucky to be given an option. I am lucky because I had a way to get out of it. But how about those who do not have? Those who have no choice but to suck it all up? Those who are everyday victim of the rotten system?

Sure, there is a security of tenureship. Sure, there are numbers of bonuses. Sure, making all types of loans is easy peasy. Sure, you will get a pension when you retire, you know when you’re too old to even make an adventure you’ve been waiting for a lifetime. But the basic pay is not enough. It is not enough to buy the materials that the department does not provide. It is not enough for the amount of paperwork that they have to submit, for all the lesson plans that they have to make, for the number of students that they have to teach in each class, for the family that they have to feed, for living.

There are many serious problems in public schools that the authority overlook because they are still holding on to their absurd ideals in public education. Many young and really good teachers are quitting public school to teach abroad for better pay. I wonder if this is not alarming at all. Many of my schoolmates, some are even cum laudes, are now teaching in other Asian countries, because they will not earn much in the Philippines. Are we really going to let other countries make use of the skills of our quality teachers? Maybe this should make us ponder, hard. 

So what is my point?

Public school teachers need to be properly compensated, that’s what we/they are pleading for years and is still unheard. Public school teachers need a quality life. Public school students need quality teachers. Seriously. You need to see how’s everything in school in a normal day. When supervisor’s visitation is not announced, when there’s no preparation at all, when teachers are striving to get through another day; and there you will see what the real problems are. Sit down with the grassroots, know their stories, and act upon it.

I may not be in the public school anymore, but it will always be a huge part of who I am today. And if I could make people aware of the situation of my fellow teachers through my writing, I will. Someday, I will probably be back, and I hope that the situation will be way better.

To all my former colleagues, you are all modern heroes. I salute you for braving every single day! You deserve more! Keep hustling.


About the writer:

She is a young teacher-writer-wanderess from the Philippines. She blends her passion to touch lives with her lust to wander and with her love for life. She’s consumed by all things pertaining to places, people, culture, and words. Follow her adventures on Instagram @pinaywanderess and on Facebook.

  • Claribelle Arceo
    October 24, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Hi! Thank you for putting all our pains into well crafted words. It’s really hard to be in the public school. Been teaching for seven years, I have seen good… no, best teachers of our country leave just to teach else where because our salary is not enough. It will never be enough to compensate all our hardship and sacrifices as a teacher. Many believe, “Uy! Sa public school yan nagtuturo! Mayaman!” To that notation. Which is very very wrong! Many of us need part time jobs just to make ends meet. And once they are in that system I will hear them, “ay! Ganito pala dito. Sana hindi ba lang ako umalis sa private.” It makes me sad. But nevertheless it was the truth. The truth that even the powerful people will not probably never know. The reason that they do not give us the increase we deserve.

    Oooppsss! Stand corrected, they do guve increase. Its 500 every year for fout years. Where that 500 will take us? To the tax??

    The end point of this whoke situation, Philippines will loose all its best teachers in the near future. I, for one is already planning to go abroad. After 7 years, I thought I will reach 65 in the same school as I were when I was 22. But no, with all the work loads, sacrifice and financial crisis that I am in right now. I don’t see that anymore. This makes me sad. But I have no choice.

  • Christelle
    October 25, 2017 at 2:25 am

    Hello! As I read your article, nasabi ko sa sarili ko na “THIS IS FOR ME”. I am also a public school teacher. I am joining the system for 1 year pa lamang. I graduated last 2014. I dreamt to work abroad after I graduated. But God gave me the opportunity to work in a private school with a higher income than the other private schools in our place. I worked there for 2 years. I prayed that after, I’ll go abroad. I tried to send lots of applications online. Yes, may tumawag sa akin but my parents didn’t allow me because its in Middle East. I also applied in public school that time and fortunately, I passed and accepted to be a part of public school teacher. Now, God knows the desire of my heart. It is to travel, to explore the world. Thank you for your words. Maybe a year or years from now, I’ll follow the desire of my heart. God Bless you! Thank you for inspiring me ❤

      • Liezel
        December 27, 2017 at 1:46 pm

        hi miss adah baka may masuggest po kayo kung paano pong mag apply ng part time job… like data encoding..really need some extra income po…

  • Margarette Anne Abelar
    October 25, 2017 at 7:54 am

    I, myself, am one of them and so much of your writing have made me tell my “Yup it’s true” or my countless nods thinking “Been there. Done that.” I’d be honest with this comment. I am currently in my 2nd year of teaching in the Public School and I never thought (when I was still outside the system) that it would be this ‘difficult’. Yes it is challenging in many ways and that I have accepted long before I get myself into it but when I say difficult I mean all the times that the higher-ups would ask you to pile up endless paperworks on their table by 5pm given that they’ve only announced it that same morning; difficult in a sense that your savings are actually not for “you” but for your teaching because you’ve been saving it all up to buy that projector that has always been being suggested by your HT; and difficult because ‘yes’ every pay day is just a day where you go withraw your 16k (secretly knowing that you’ve already divided it to all your family’s expenses) and ending up asking yourself, at the end of the day, where did it all go? or why is the next payday taking so loooooong to come. All these.. all these makes me think to just leave it, forget about that patriotic side of myself, and try to live a life I will not complain about. Don’t get me wrong, I also love it and I think I’ll always do (mostly because of how the kids remember my perky morning greetings that makes me giggle inside my head) but I want to see more of the world and I want to explore wider horizons. I want to improve ‘me’ this time.. that maybe one day when I’m fully ready to dedicated myself to public service, I’ll be out of doubt and all I’ll just smile every day away because I finally founf where I belong. One day…..
    Thanks for writing this blog. It made me feel great knowing that there’s someone who braved it to go out from the safe world of public school and took a shot on a bigger world. Kudos sistah !

  • Grace Francisco
    October 25, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Oh my!!!! I was glad I encountered your post. I filed my resignation from a public school a mo th ago and my last day would be on Nov. 2. Tho, it was a husband-wife decision for we want to build our family, everything you wrote here was exactly what I needed to answer my why’s and what if’s since a lot of people were bragging that it would be better if i stay…with this post, i felt confident to leave without any heaitation.

  • Araceli Villaflor
    October 25, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    I was a public school teacher way back 1995… After serving 7years in public school… With so much loans from different lending company …and I am only receiving 2k because I had to pay all my loans… Because of the net salary I’m receiving, I decided to work abroad as a tutor at the same time part time nanny… After 2 years of working abroad.. I need to go back in teaching because I really wanted to teach a young minds… But I applied in a private school.. Wherein I’m receiving much higher salary compare to what I’m receiving in a public school… I incountered so many struggles.. But now I’m happy with what I’m doing… I may not be receiving big salary but.. I am contended and happy with what I’m doing right now… Being a teacher is not a job… It takes a lot of passion… Meaning to say to pass- to share what I’ve learned to educate the student to pass all my learnings… I – means me to be the instruments of sharing knowledge to my students On-means
    the students who are the receiver of knowledge…

  • Ryan Glenn
    October 25, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Hello Ms Adah, what a brave soul you are! Here’s to a more enriching future ahead~ かんぱい (cheers)!

  • Anonymous teacher
    October 26, 2017 at 2:37 am

    Hi 🙂 super big thank you for this blog. This pretty much sums up how i exactly feel. I am a public school for 4 years now. I was teaching in a prestigious private school for 4 years too back then, and i honestly regret the fact of diving in to the system. I was hopeful. I was idealistic. I wanted to help the children. But the system is really frustrating. And it just even gets more frustating because i do not have the courage to pull myself out just yet. Thank you for this. I hope it reaches out to everyone concerned.

  • Mae
    October 26, 2017 at 2:51 am

    You have no clue how your blog affected me. I feel like I am reading my own incomplete story. I wanted to find my way out too but at the same time I can’t find the strength to do so. Thinking about the risk scares and I always have that cold feet when it comes to making decisions like this. One day, I will find my way too – I may have to weigh a ton of thoughts in my mind before that happens but I’m pretty sure it’s all worth it (someday). By the way, you have truly inspired me and I thank you for writing this <3

  • Sheila Nejudne
    October 26, 2017 at 7:00 am

    Hi Ms. Adah Grace Dela Cruz! I thank God for using you mightily in crafting this beautifully orchestrated blog. Coincidentally, I left the public school after four years too, just like you. I couldn’t agree more to the things you’ve pointed out and to the experience you’ve shared. It’s tough to stay in a Department where your worth is not valued and it’s even more crippling to be working for a system that does not allow you to be the best professional you can be. There are many flaws but no one seems to care and no one seems to be bothered anymore.

    Leaving the public school has been, to this day, the bravest and wisest decision I have ever made. Yes, the uncertainties are frightening but the possibilities are empowering.

  • Nelaida Castillo
    October 27, 2017 at 3:06 am

    I thought, I was the only one who felt this way. I am a sped teacher whoe does not receive proper compensation. Kulang pa ang salary ko sa gastos sa mga learning materials, photocopies and classroom renovations especially during evaluation and events that require you to spend. They also expect teachers to be at their best all the time. Sana naman kasi mag provide sila ng materials for the teachers. We have nothing literally nothing left for ourselves. Tapos people around would just say “trabaho nyo yan its a part of your job”, “you’re nothing if you don’t know how to make a little sacrifice”. For your information sobra sobrang sacrifice na. Tough it is. 1 year alang ako in public but I’ m thinking to leave after I finish my masters degree.

  • Miss Tabieros
    October 27, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Everyone wants a greener pasture. Sad to say that brilliant teachers are leaving the country because of the low compensation. If public school teachers would have been paid higher, teaching would much be better. I salute all the kind, competitive, dynamic, awesome public school teachers who still chose to stay despite having a hard time fulfilling their missions. It is such an exhausting but rewarding job. I am also a teacher in a government school in Bangkok, Thailand but I really do appreciate this country as we were only given at least 16-18 hours of teaching a week which is much better. The school also provides our materials for teaching. and the compensation is good enough. At the same time, we have time to travel if we want to. While young, be inspired to see the fascinating places around us. We can always make money. We can’t always make an amazing experience. Teaching will always be my passion. It’s just a matter of contentment and self-sacrifice. Kudos to all teachers!

  • shang pepito
    October 27, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Upon reading this article I am already processing my leave papers for 2 months before resigning. This would really mean something that the world is in favor of me. I love teaching but it is not enough to pay our house bills. Everyone was discouraging me from leaving but I am NO HERO to spend my whole years teaching with low compensation. I am glad that someone was able to voice out our cries. A Big salute to our public school teachers!

  • joyce tan
    October 27, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    U really got me!!dis is my exact dilemma..wondering how can I get out of teaching

  • mary ann
    October 27, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    hello…. that’s really a scenario in public school.. yes, we truly have a lot of benefits. people think that if a teacher is in public school they are well compensated but,it was a great mistake because its not enough especially to those who have a family. i tried to apply in middle east, i pass but my parents did not allow me to pursue my application because its in middle east so im still in public school and trying to re apply from other countries were i can find my self and i can help my family

  • Jen FromTheBlock
    October 28, 2017 at 12:03 am

    I feel you… Some thoughts on being a Teacher 1. Even if you were able to have a “graduate” degree, you just can’t be promoted. Promotion is far different. ERF is not for everyone. Kiss their ass or work your ass off. Your papers will not speak for you. Some of the system members are crabs, but some people are true. God Bless all teachers. May you find happiness in everything that you do.

  • Christine Joy A. Tag at
    October 28, 2017 at 3:18 am

    I can relate so much to everything you’ve written in here. I, too, is a young public school teacher and new to the system. At times I think about things like the “what ifs” in life. What if I quit my job? What if I won’t find another job? It also crossed my mind, if I will work in the government until my retirement, will I be content and happy? Honestly, I can’t imagine myself working in the government until 65 and doing all the routinary works of a teacher. Like you, I want to explore and do the things that will make me happy while not being too selfish about my own happiness (because I have to consider others also). Thank you so much for inspiring me to make daring choices. After reading your blog, I learned that I am not alone with the feeling of wanting to be free and be better. I learned that I can be different about my choices in life and not follow the “road most traveled”. Thank you so much! Keep writing!

  • Mark Casabuena
    October 29, 2017 at 1:18 am

    Hi, good morning. I’m a public school teacher for almost 2 years. Hired at the age of 23, yet the salary that I’ve received every month can’t compensate my needs and the needs of my family. I am to teach the the young minds, but as the goes by it made me realized that it isolates me for the things that I wanted. I love traveling because I have this gypsy soul within me. I believe that traveling is one of the most valuable and enriching experiences in our lives
    increasing our knowledge, opening our minds, enriching our spirits, extending new moral
    values; and you can find many destinations in the world that would fulfill your desires. How wish maybe someday I could travel the whole world and live the life I’ve always wanted – to travel.

  • Mark Casabuena
    October 29, 2017 at 1:35 am

    I am happy to teach the young minds, but as time goes by

  • El Niño Benedict Duque
    October 29, 2017 at 1:44 am

    I admire you on how you share your experiences. I hope the system will improve. The problem is many politicians don’t have the political will to improve the education system in our country. I believe when this situation will continue our country will suffer and the most affected is the youth. We can’t run at par with our nieghboring countries. We will be left behind. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • Harvey Joy
    October 29, 2017 at 2:20 am

    This blog perfectly sums up my sentiments as a teacher. Though i’ve been in the system for only a year and a half, what i have experienced and seen is enough for me to understand the struggles of our public school teachers. I’m not even sure if a can stand the system until retirement age. My mind tells me to leave and I might leave but maybe not anytime soon. I still need to muster up my courage to start anew. 😇

  • Angelou B. Bernabe
    October 30, 2017 at 2:07 am

    Hello! I’ve been teaching in private school for 2 years, and never in my life that I planned to apply in public school. Everything you said is the same with what i want to express. You made me realize that i have to enjoy my life now that Im only 22. So happy to read this blog of yours ❤

  • Louise Anne Porciuncula
    October 30, 2017 at 3:16 am

    Hi! I can relate so much with your post. I was a teacher for about 10 years (8 in private, 2 in public). But since getting married last year, I have stopped teaching and begun freelance writing. I love teaching, but writing has always been my first love 🙂 Some of my relatives think I’m being impractical, as they see “public teaching” as the most “sensible” and “secure” way for me. Reading your article made me feel less worried. I might go back to teaching again, I might not. But I do know that when I do it, it’s because I truly want to, and not just because other say I have to 🙂 Cheers!

  • cj
    October 30, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    I feel you. I have been working in public for 3 months now and I’m thinking of resigning by the end of the year. There are a lot of reasons why I want to quit. I love teaching but I don’t like the system; it’s so intoxicating. I am not happy anymore.

  • Ranelle Abundo
    October 31, 2017 at 4:03 am

    This is sad but very true. We dont even have hospitalization. Last August 2016 I had an operation with my thyroid. I loaned a 100 k for my operation . I filed a sick leave for two months without pay. Does the government care? Of course not!They couldnt even grant a sick leave with pay. I encourage for those who are still young in the service, get out while you still can. Being under in our government is not worthy. Explore in other countries and strive to be a citizen in other country.Best future awaits you ther than here in Philippines .Your income here is not enough . This is one of my regrets in life . I dont have the courage to explore. . If you cant get out today , there will never be a chance. You will be tied like aprison

    • Zuey Guevarra
      November 3, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Hello po…of all the comments i read above,the voice you had shared here struck me the most. 10 years in public school already.sobrang tagal sobrang tagal na din akong nagtitiis sa sistemang ito.gustong gusto ko na talaga umalis kaso lang,until now wala pa talagang akong lakas ng loob para iwan ito. Pero tiniis ko pa din kasi nga sabi ng iba, sayang daw…magsisisi lang daw ako etc. Dumating pa sa point na sa konting panahon na gusto kong ibigay sa self ko para mag enjoy at itreat si ako, hindi pa ako pinayagan ng Department. I was planning to go in Singapore for a short trip. Pero hindi iyon binigyan ng consideration. Naging dedicated ako sa work ko, hindi ako palaabsent…lahat ng assigned task ay ginagawa ko naman on time. To the highest level yung sama ng loob ko, promise. Sinabihan pa ko na kapag umalis pa din ako, sa pagbabalik ko daw, my kasong bubungad sa akin. Insubordination. Saklap….

  • Ana Mae Padar
    November 1, 2017 at 7:28 am

    I see myself in you Miss. I’m 23 now and I’m already 2 years as a public school teacher. My mom always keep on telling me that “many were called but few were chosen” and I’m lucky to be one. But, honestly I couldn’t find genuine happiness on my job right now. I always wanted to go abroad to teach and I’m so happy I came to see your blog which is very uplifting to my soul. Maybe after I’ll finish my master’s degree I pursue what my heart really desires. Thanks to you Miss. And by the way I also love to travel a lot😘

  • Gener Mendigo Crebillo
    November 2, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Hello! While I was reading your blog, I got really touched coz we share the same experience. It’s just that I spent 12 years first in public school before I finally decided to fly to Thailand. I love how you presented everything. As I go through, it was like I was reminiscing all the experiences I had way back 2 years ago. That’s why I really felt that you wrote everything with all your heart. I also am full of hope in life and ready to risks of the adventures im going through and I might go through in the future that is why I left public school teaching. I felt like the world is again open for me to explore it when I left the Philippines. Thanks a lot for sharing your precious gift of writing. I know this will be a great inspiration to those who are left in the Philippines to open up their eyes and be brave enough to take the challenge of finding new shores if they think that they’re not getting any fulfillment at all. Thanks again and please continue to share your gift. God bless…

  • Elena
    November 2, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Hello, beautiful! A really good read ☺ Wonder how have you been. Just came to tell how glad I am to see you realizing your dreams. God bless!
    Elmo ☺

  • RJC Emague
    November 5, 2017 at 3:02 am

    Everything you have mentioned speaks of the reality. Maybe these are the reasons why I dont have any plans of transferring in a public school. Many people are asking me why Im staying in a private school. Well, my mother is a public school teacher and I witness all the hardships she encountered due to the meager salary she receive. Your article gave me the affirmation of how the public school system works. Right now I am very much contented in a private Maritime University. I already spent 8 satisfying years of in this private institution. Planning to transfer in public school? Cancel. Thank you. You have enlighten me in making decisions. God bless you Maam.

      • RJC Emague
        November 7, 2017 at 2:06 pm


  • Zoena Ginete
    November 5, 2017 at 7:20 am

    Hi! We all have the same sentiments. I just really hope that higher officials would read this, touch their hearts, and do something about all these problems. Happiness is very important to wellness and it makes a ripple effect. Thank you for being brave! This will go far!

  • Ranny De Jesus
    November 5, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Good day, I just want to ask since that you all have an experienced in public school. What if you resigned in a public school then you have your resignation letter that signed by your principal but you didn’t pass it to the division office. Is that called an AWOL? What if after a years you want to go again on the procedure of ranking. Is that possible with the same division? Can I apply again? Thanks in advance.

      • Ranny De Jesus
        November 6, 2017 at 7:09 pm

        Did you resign mam? What if I want to apply again im that division? D n po b pwde? Thanks

  • Jennifer B. Vasquez
    November 5, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    As I all read your comments and everything that has been said I’ve reflected what my friend had said a months ago. I’m an administrator and she was a teacher but left in service and venture in Cambodia. She called me and said to go along with her. I’ve asked how much is her salary as a teacher there and she said more than my salary. As a Principal II. I’m amazed of the big opportunity she have had then, she brought her family to be with her for the luck she had gained abroad. Her employer offered scholarships to all her children and work for her husband.At this moment I’m still hesitant for her invitation because I have 10 yrs. to go and retire. 2 teachers have followed after her story 1 female now teaching at Thailand but 1 male teacher her company have come back to old school because of his destiny in that place is not the same as theirs.. Many are now planning to follow but some are hesitant.

  • Christina Marie Bon
    November 6, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Nonthaburi is just an hour away from Bangkok. Inshallah, we’ll meet. God bless Adah. Continue to inspire others. Hugs!

  • Allen V. Ala-an
    December 6, 2017 at 9:28 am

    This is sad yet this is reality. Its the ugly truth. As much as we love our profession and as much as we want to help mold and teach our young children I don’t wan’t to stay in a system that has so much negativity. Maybe not all, but as I can see it whenever we try to make our needs and cry reach the higher officials we were just ignored and worst some covers up their wrong doing. Yes! I wanted to take a leap of faith. To become better not just for myself by for love ones.

  • Lunia
    December 7, 2017 at 5:53 am

    Hi po. Isa rin po akong LPT but hindi parin po ako nagtuturo kasi nga di ko po talaga gusto mag teacher but yan yung kinuha ko kasi nga po, pinag aral lang din po ako (ayaw ko mag demand). Tapos ngayon iba ang work ko, hindi naman ako pini perssure ni mama na mag teach pero I can feel that yun yung gusto nya para sa akin because I’m in the province and teaching is one of the stable job you can have here.

    I’m still lost. Blurry pa future ko. Di ko alam ang gagawin ko. Gusto ko yung courage mo to pursue what you want in life. Pero ako, isa yata ako sa no choice. huhuhu

  • Aileen Myers Tagle
    December 29, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Thanks for this article Ms. Adah Grace. Very timely ito for me because I too am planning to leave the public school system. All of you details are on point. I want to add more but I dont to dissolution others who are still in it for the struggle, i gotta admit that I dont have plans on teaching abroad since I have my mom to take care of but I am planning to teach in College full time instead. I feel as if the system is killing me slowly. Nakakasawa na ang sistema. As much as I love teaching and my students, I need more. More approval, more validation of my worth and I have to admit, more financial freedom. God bless us all

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