HomeCommentaryGreatness of good teachers, child abuse of the bad

Greatness of good teachers, child abuse of the bad

The Philippine Department of Education (DepEd) must change and grow as it will, hopefully under Secretary Sara Z. Duterte, to create that secure, safe, positive, and inspirational environment essential for every student to learn, develop and grow as a person.

Child sexual abuse is spreading in schools as pedophile teachers are emboldened by weak implementation of the child protection code in schools and officials are tolerating child sexual abuse by teachers.

An urgent task awaits Secretary Sara. It is the strict implementation of the child protection code. Some officials of the Department of Education do not strictly implement the code of conduct in protecting children from abuse.

The case of public school teacher Corskie San Jose of Olongapo City National High School is a shocking example. He was convicted in the Regional Trial Court in 2019 for two separate cases of child sexual abuse of two students, one only 11 years old, and sentenced to jail for at least eight years in each case.

The DepEd, which handled the separate administrative case against him, however only gave him a mere six months suspension, an apparent failure to act in the best interest of the children. What is so shocking is that he is still teaching today despite the fact that his appeal of one of his criminal convictions has been denied and the conviction against him by Judge Theresa Logronio has been upheld in 2022 by the Court of Appeals.

His sentence has been increased from 8 years to a minimum of 12 to 17 years in prison. The total fines he has to pay the victim has increased from a total of Php 30,000 to Php 120,000 pesos. He is convicted and yet continues teaching free as a bird. Is this a mockery of the judicial system? Why does he have such impunity when others don’t?

The DepEd Rules of Procedures in Administrative Cases known as DepEd Order No 49, Series of 2006, must be changed. It says that an accused teacher could even be promoted despite pending trials or decisions against him or her. Secretary Sara must do something about this.

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In another more recent case, Judge Gemma Theresa Hilario-Logronio of the Family Court in Olongapo City ordered the arrest of public elementary school teacher Alain Malitao, accused of child sex abuse of three Grade 3 children aged 9 years old in Sto. Tomas, Subic, Zambales. He was recently arrested and detained. The Preda Foundation has also brought an administrative case against him in the DepEd. Will the DepEd suspend him indefinitely or allow him back into teaching among vulnerable children if and when he gets bail?

This is where Secretary Sara Duterte must step in to see that children are protected from pedophile teachers and justice is done. Parents will fear sending their children to school where they are vulnerable when they should be safe and secure.

There is a great challenge to change and develop the Philippine educational system. Students and teachers need this change to achieve personality growth through progressive, participative, self-thinking education. The retraining of teachers to be people that are positive, reinforcing, inspiring, knowledgeable, and caring classroom personalities is essential. They must value the child and understand the pressures and threats of abuse that children are under in their home and through social media and be there to listen and understand and support them.

If ever true growth and brain-expanding experience of knowledge are ever to be imparted, the classroom experience has to change radically. It is not just the curriculum that needs to be refocused and developed, it is change that starts with the teacher and those that train them. There must be a new purpose for teaching to impart higher values and knowledge and commitment to protecting one’s human dignity, child rights, and a desire in children to grow and develop through enlightened educational practices.

Teachers must do more than teach lessons on a blackboard. They must create a classroom that is secure, safe, supportive, and understanding of the needs of the students. Many are deprived of those values in their own homes. Students in all grades need resilience to withstand the onslaught of the negative influence of co-students and online communication that is directly communicated through their mobile phones.

Students need guidance and a powerful, positive influencer in the person of their teachers. They need direction and teaching of values and goodness to inspire them to make good choices in their lives. Teachers must develop in their students the ability to think for themselves, to reason, and to discuss issues of right and wrong. This is what develops the mind and heart, it is the essence of education, which in Latin means “to lead out, to grow.”

Moral training should be the priority. Students must be able to clearly know the good from the bad and true from false, right from wrong. They need to be inspired to choose the good and reject the evil that is striving to capture their minds and hearts.

While moral value training is essential, there are different systems of education prevailing in the world today. One group of educational leaders sees education as the memorization of facts and figures. They support learning by repetition as past generations of education officials wish to preserve that tradition and practice.

One generation is a copy of the previous one, with similar interests, skills, and abilities for practical application in the workplace. The students are taught to accept the conservative traditions of the past generation, unquestioning obedience, fear and respect for elders, preservation of the status quo, and subservience to the social situation.

There is the other group of educators and leaders that see education as the growth and expansion of the mind and heart with the ability to embrace change. Education is in part to question and challenge prevailing attitudes and ideas and to seek creative answers for themselves. This calls for the participation of the students in their own education.

Then a majority of enlightened and knowledgeable educated people knowing right and wrong, good and bad, true and false, could distinguish the good leaders and be inspired by them to choose with free will the good and reject evil. The political landscape could be changed if we have a truly educated, self-aware, reflective population. An intelligent educated person is one not just with skills and knowledge but with active self-awareness and the ability to use them for good.

Should this kind of education ever come to humankind, there will be a kinder, more compassionate, and more helpful nation filled with better, happier students and people. That is the power of real education.

Irish Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse. The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LiCAS.news.

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