Speech of DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro in Celebration of World Teachers’ Day 2010

Speech of Br. Armin A. Luistro, FSC in Celebration of World Teachers’ Day, October 5, 2010, Philsports Arena, Pasig City

A Tribute to Teachers

To all the teachers here and to all who support and admire teachers, a wonderful morning/afternoon to you!

The establishment of a World Teachers’ Day has been long in coming. Teachers have long been the backbone in every society, and we applaud the move to honor them by dedicating one day each year to teachers and the nobility of purpose and profession that they all stand for.

On this occasion, may I share a quote by Greek poet and novelist Nikos Kazantzakis: “True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”

The “collapsing” here is not an actual collapse, of course – although I know that because of the hard work and dedication of our teachers and the oftentimes- thankless nature of their job, some of them have actually gotten ill. The quotation simply shows how selfless teachers are and how noble the profession is.

Teachers teach all they can, mightily, devotedly, grooming many students to successes which the teachers themselves will not reach in their lifetimes, and when their former students have carved out spectacular names for themselves in the world, these same teachers just sit quietly and applaud at the sidelines, genuinely happy about the achievements of their mentees, many of whom had seemed like hopeless human beings when they were in school.

And what is usually the secret to people’s successes? Many important people of today will claim to have someone who had been very influential to him or her during formative years. What is usually their definition of “influential”? You will rarely hear that a teacher was memorable because he brilliantly enumerated all the capitals of the world, or that she solved a truly thorny mathematical problem. Teachers are most influential when they touch hearts at the same time that they teach minds; when they show kindness to a discouraged student; when they inspire a person to expand and think of possibilities “out there”, to be bigger than themselves and the environment they grew up in. That is the magic in great teaching. Those are the teachers we honor today. The Department of Education reiterates: “My teacher is my hero.”

We have all heard of Dr. Josette Biyo whose excellence in teaching garnered for her international awards and the naming of a planet after her – Planet Biyo in our very same solar system. Today we honor not only Dr. Biyo and several other well-known educators like her, but also the teachers of Dr. Biyo who had shaped her to excellence but who have nobly, selflessly stayed out of the limelight. This is teaching at its finest; to mold someone to be the best that he or she can be – and then to step off the stage, because you have done your job, and you have done it well.

We celebrate teachers who are widely known, and teachers who are known and loved even by just the forty or so students in their classes. Those are still FORTY individuals who can potentially make this world a better place to live in. That is the power of education. That is the power in your hands every single day of the year.

And the power of the Department of Education is to strive mightily to support the educational efforts of our teachers.

Teacher education and development is the second key reform thrust of BESRA whose purpose is to improve learning outcomes by improving the quality of teaching.

For this purpose, we are employing the Competency-Based Teacher Standards or CBTS for the following: recruitment, selection, and hiring of teachers to ensure that only the best will mentor our learners. We are also using the CBTS to identify teacher strengths and needs which can become the basis in mapping out our teachers’ professional growth and development. Also, we refer to the CBTS in appraising the performance of teachers and in rewarding good teaching.

This is the reason why we continue to draft policy directions that will further improve teacher working conditions, promote teacher wellness, continuously upgrade the quality of teaching and learning, support the continuing capacity-building of teachers, and push for the legislation of the revised Magna Carta for Teachers.

We will continue to promote accountability among our teachers and encourage them to organize themselves into forming professional learning communities in support of improving student learning approaches.

We will work hand in hand with you. Since we expect you to provide the best teaching possible to uplift the Filipino youth, it is but right that we also give you the resource support you need.

Let me end with a quote by our world-class teacher, the pride of our country, Dr. Biyo, who stayed to teach in an Iloilo high school despite her doctorate degree and the accolade given her by no less than the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology of the United States: “Being world-class doesn’t mean going international and showing our best out there. Being world-class is passion and commitment to our profession. Being world-class is giving our best to our country and to our people. For teachers, being world-class starts right inside the classroom.”

Mabuhay ang mga gurong Pilipino. Mabuhay ang mga guro sa buong mundo!