MANILA -- Everyone may agree that teaching is a noble profession. Oftentimes, teachers don't just educate their students but also help them build their future.

Such is the case of welding teacher Josephine Bayani.

"Ma'am Bayani" or "nanay" as her students fondly call her, has been teaching welding since 2010 at the Amaya School of Home Industries in Cavite. She currently handles 25 to 35 students per class, two hours a day, five times a week.

"Since this is a tech-voc (technical-vocational) school, it offers welding as specialization or major for Grades 8 and 10, or possibly until Grade 12 if they would like to pursue the TVET (technical and vocational education and training) in senior high school," she told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.

Bayani noted that in their school, advance welding techniques are taught to senior high schools students. They would need to undergo the Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) as well as the Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), she added. 
 

Two of her students during class. Bayani says tech-voc education would help them land a job after graduation. (Photo courtesy of Josephine Bayani)

 "I think, especially with the (socioeconomic) status now, tech-voc is important for K-12 graduates, because they are already of legal age, and they would have better employment opportunities once they graduate," she said.

She said the immersion or on the job training (OJT) is part of the K-12 program so many of their students get jobs from the companies where they had their internships.

"Our school is near a shipyard, as well as manufacturers of capsules for petroleum products. They (students) normally have their internships there," said Bayani, a mother of a five-year-old child.

She said tech-voc education and national certification (NC) are vital for those who would like to work abroad. Those who would like to work for the military are required to have an NC, she added.

Challenges

Being a woman may not be a hindrance for Bayani when she entered this field but she still deals with some challenges.

First is with regard to the salary, which she said is not enough, especially for those who have a small chance of getting a promotion.

"One needs to have a master’s degree if he or she wants to get promoted, and is also required to have an NC higher than the NC level his or her students are applying for," Bayani said.

A PHP25,000 to PHP30,000 entry level salary may be enough, she said.

While acknowledging that the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is a huge help as it is the one that certifies tech-voc graduates, Bayani said she hopes the agency would be more stringent in the certification screening process.

She hopes that the TESDA could partner with more companies that they could also locate so that they could apply in these companies.

Another challenge "ma'am Bayani" encounters is with her students.

"In general, many of my students have not that motivated and are always absent. I always remind their parents about our policies," she said.

Bayani said for the students to follow her, she tries her best to set an example. For instance, she doesn't dye her hair because she doesn't want to see her students' hair dyed.
 

Bayani emphasizes that a complete gear of overall PPE (personal protective equipment) is necessary for the students' safety against molten metal. (Photo courtesy of Josephine Bayani)

 
 "I also don't do demonstrations without complete PPE (personal protective equipment) because I don't want them to have incomplete PPE while doing their task," she added.

She buys her own protective gear and overall PPEs (personal protective equipments). The school provides gloves for the teachers and also provides gloves, welding masks and clear protective eyeglasses for the students.

"I treat my students as my kids, that's why I call them 'anak'. Some of them call me 'nanay', but only after class," Bayani said.

Caring for her students, she said it's necessary for them to have an overall, as other clothes like long sleeves would not suffice.

"For Grade 8 students, it may be fine not to wear an overall because they do lighter welding activities, more on fabrication. Grade 10 students undergo the core competencies of welding, so that's a more rigid process, and they have more days that they do welding," she said.

Women are better welders

"Before, welding was associated with the boys, but that has changed as time passed," Bayani said.

She added that a few years back, many female welders were hired in Japan.

"Girls have 'better' hands, with less 'pasma', and better motion control. Also, girls don't do a short-cut in procedures," she said.

Bayani said she feels happy and contented, knowing that the welding course has helped many of her past students.

The 32-year old teacher took Bachelor of Science in Industrial Education, major in Mechanical Technology.

She decided to pursue such course, saying at that time, it was among those with lowest tuition.

"It was also my choice because I wanted to teach. I've been involved in (teaching) in our children ministry," she said. (PNA