LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Senator Imee Marcos on Thursday called on the national government to invest more in teachers as they are the key to improving the country’s educational system.
Marcos made the call as she cited the inadequate support to teachers as the possible primary cause of why the country is lagging in math, science, and reading compared to other countries in Southeast Asia, based on the recent report of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).
"I think we failed to invest in our teachers,” she said during a press conference in Lingayen after distributing aid to more than 2,000 indigent students from nine campuses of the Pangasinan State University.
“'Pag tinignan mo mga pinakamahusay na schools sa buong mundo, tulad ng Finland at Singapore, iisa ang pareho sa kanila. Ang teachers nila kung anu-ano kurso na binibigay, tapos ang mga teachers matataas ang sahod (If we look at the best schools in the world, like those in Finland and Singapore, they have one thing in common – they give courses/training to their teachers and the teachers' salary is high)."
Investing more in teachers is the key to improving the country’s educational system, she said, adding that the government should train them more.
"Ang ating mga guro ang sikreto. Ang sikreto sa quality education ay hindi sikreto. Alam nating lahat na nasa kamay ng ating mga guro. Alam natin kung ano kalidad ng guro ay yon din kalalabasan ng estudyante (Our teachers are the secret. The secret to quality education is no secret. We all know that the quality of the teachers would show in the quality of education of students)," Marcos said.
"We failed to train our teachers even higher to more additional degrees to specialize, we failed to reward those who are working in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) area. Kasalanan namin mambabatas, dagdag ng dagdag subjects pero nakalimutan na basics eh, pinaka-basic yon at yon kinabukasan natin. Sinisisi ko talaga kami rin na mga mambabatas, tayo lahat sa pamahalaan hindi nabigyan halaga mga teachers (We in the legislature are at fault as we added more subjects but forgot the basics, whereas the basics are the foundation of our future. I blame us, the legislature, and the whole national government for not giving enough value to the teachers).”
She also underscored the need to focus on the struggles of the educational system.
Meanwhile, Marcos said indigent senior citizens would have an additional PHP500 to their monthly pension starting next year.
She said the Senate has approved the PHP25 billion additional budget for the social pension program for indigent senior citizens next year.
Meanwhile, Marcos led the distribution of PHP5,000 each to about 2,000 indigent students from nine campuses of the PSU.
The financial assistance came from the DSWD’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program.
She urged the beneficiaries to use the amount for their school needs and not to spend it to buy Christmas presents.
Andrea Mae Sarmiento, a third-year Bachelor of Science in Criminology student, thanked the national government for the assistance.
"Pang gastos po sa school at magbibigay sa family pangkain (I would use it for my school expenses and food for my family)," she said.
Hanie Jane Munda, a Bachelor of Technology and Livelihood Education student, said she would spend half of the amount on school expenses and the other half to buy groceries for her family.
PSU President Elbert Galas said about 500 indigent fresh graduates of the university, through the office of Marcos, were hired under the KALAHI-CIDSS (Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan - Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services).
The KALAHI-CIDSS is a poverty alleviation program of the national government implemented by the DSWD.
"We thank the national government and Senator Marcos for these programs. The students are now deployed in different local government units and DSWD offices, as well as in the nine PSU campuses," he said.
Marcos also attended the Christmas gatherings for children in Alaminos City and San Carlos City where she distributed Christmas gifts.
About 500 indigent individuals from different sectoral groups in San Carlos City also received PHP3,000 each under the AICS program. (PNA)