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.