Bridge Program: Added Cargo for Overworked, Underpaid Teachers

Teachers trained under Makabayan subjects, who are “not well-equipped with teaching competencies in Math, Science and English,” are being assigned to the controversial Bridge Program, a teacher leader reveals.

“Paano magagawa ng Bridge Program ang pagpapahusay sa mga estudyante kung ang mga magtuturo nito ay ibang aralin naman ang itinuturo” (How can the Bridge program improve the competencies of students in the three major subjects if teachers from other departments will be assigned to teach them?), he asks.

By AUBREY SC MAKILAN
Bulatlat.com

The Manila Public School Teachers (MPSTA) has expressed concern over the reported plan to tap teachers of Makabayan (patriotic) subjects to handle classes under the High School Bridge Program.

Benjie Valbuena, MPSTA president, over the weekend said that teachers trained under Makabayan subjects, who are “not well-equipped with teaching competencies in Math, Science and English,” are being assigned to the Bridge program.

“Paano magagawa ng Bridge Program ang pagpapahusay sa mga estudyante sa tatlong araling iyon kung ang mga magtuturo nito ay ibang aralin naman ang itinuturo?” (How can the Bridge program improve the competencies of students in the three major subjects if teachers from other departments will be assigned to teach them?), Valbuena said.

The MPSTA president said teachers from departments other than the three major subjects were included in the recent four-day training of teachers for the Bridge Program. He cited the case of his co-teacher at Calderon High School in Tondo, Manila, Virgilio Bea, who was asked to attend the training. Bea is from the social studies department.

Valbuena expressed fears that Bea might also be assigned to teach in the Bridge Program. Both of them teach Makabayan subjects. In addition, Valbuena teaches Technical Livelihood Education (TLE).

Makabayan was created under the Revised Basic Education Curriculum which was introduced during the term of Raul Roco as education secretary. The course is an integration of four subjects namely, music, arts and physical education; Technical and Livelihood Education; Values; and Araling Panlipunan or Social Studies.

Burden for teachers

Ms. Andrea Falle, who also teaches Music, Arts, and Physical Education (MAPE) at Calderon, also reacted to the plan to tap them to handle classes under the Bridge Program. She said, “Pinahirapan na kami nang todo-todo sa Makabayan subjects na yan pagkatapos bibigyan pa kami ng subjects sa ilalim ng Bridge Program! Wala pang service credit sa amin!” (Making us teach all the subject areas under Makabayan was already a big burden for us and now they are giving us additional teaching loads for the Bridge Program! They don’t even give us service credits for our additional load!).

“Sa pagsunod lang sa kung anu-anong mga bagong programang ipinatupad nila, extra time na. Bakit di sila magprovide ng teachers na ‘yung Bridge Program lang ang tututukan?” (Every new program which the Department of Education introduces means extra time for us. Why don’t they provide additional teachers for the Bridge program?), Ms. Falle added.

Valbuena said that the Bridge Program will worsen the plight of teachers already burdened by shortage of educators.

Right now, Calderon High School has 120 teachers. With the current load, the faculty is already short by 10 teachers. Each teacher has a load of six regular sections or five regular sections and an advisory class. With the Bridge Program, a teacher will handle both regular and remedial classes which means more teaching preparations – lesson plans, quizzes and tests to check, papers and projects.

Valbuena said that of the 16 first year high school sections for the new school year, it is projected that five sections will be under the Bridge Program.

Inadequate preparations

Asked how they plan to conduct the classes under the Bridge Program, Fella told Bulatlat.com that teachers still do not have any idea even if classes are scheduled to start on Monday, June 21. “Di namin alam kung paano ‘yun. Magkakaroon ng conflict ‘yan sa schedule” (We don’t know yet. There might even be a conflict in schedules).

Valbuena added that training of teachers for the Bridge Program was conducted for only four days. Worse, not one module has been given out to them. He also said that up to now, the assignment of teachers for the Bridge Program has not yet been finalized.

“Mismong superintendents, regional directors, principals, lalo na ang mga teacher ay litong-lito sa kalokohan ni Secretary Edilberto de Jesus” (Superintendents, regional directors, principals, and most especially the teachers are very confused with this foolishness of Secretary Edilberto de Jesus), said Valbuena.

The MPSTA president lamented that official memoranda are not up to date. The Jan 27 memorandum announcing the implementation of the Bridge Program was not followed by another memorandum even after De Jesus announced in the newspapers that the program was made optional.

Continuing opposition

Meanwhile, more than 90 parents, with their children, and about 15 teachers formed an organization opposed to the Bridge Program called Students-Teachers-Parents (Step) last June 15. Similar school level formations opposed to the Bridge Program are being organized within Manila. These formations are linked with a broader alliance called the Movement for Quality Education that will lead the fight for the scrapping of the Bridge Program. The Movement for Quality Education is an NCR-wide alliance of parents, teachers, and students formed early this year in reaction to the reenacted budget for 2004 and the new grading system.

As kick off for their series of protest actions against the Bridge Program, the Movement for Quality Education will hold a noise barrage in front of the Calderon HS on June 21. This will be followed by a bigger alay-lakad (walk for a cause) from Morayta Street to the Mendiola Bridge in Manila on June 26. The June 26 mass action aims to gather parents, students and teachers opposed to the Bridge Program.

Valbuena said MPSTA and other groups oppose the Bridge Program because no genuine consultations with parents, teachers, and students were before it was finalized. The Bridge Program will be an additional burden to parents and teachers and is discriminatory to students. Those who will be attending the program will be viewed as academically poor and second-rate students, he added.

Furthermore, he said, the DepEd is inconsistent in the implementation of its policies. Last year, it removed the transmutation of grades supposedly to improve the quality of education. But it contradicted its own policy after the department lowered the passing grade for the High School Readiness Test from 75 to 30 percent, Valbuena explained.

For another, Valbuena said, the education department is trying to pass on the blame for the deteriorating quality of education to the parents. Instead of increasing the budget to address the deteriorating state of education, the DepEd came up with an optional Bridge Program so that parents of students, who do not enroll in the program and fail in future tests, can be blamed for their decision.

Valbuena said, “ang tunay na ugat ng problema sa edukasyon ay idinulot ng mahabang panahon na pagpapabaya ng gobyerno sa budget ng edukasyon” (The problem confronting the education system today is the result of the historical neglect of the government in providing an adequate budget for education).

He said that the real goal of the government is to reduce the budget for education. The government’s budget for education amounts to merely 3.5 percent of the gross national product (GNP) while other Asian countries spend approximately 6 percent of their GNP on education.

“With this situation, any form of educational reform, like the new grading system and the Bridge Program, will be useless,” he said.()

Share This Post