Global Peace Education Webinar

In celebration of National Teachers’ Month and a most awaited re-opening of public schools in the country, the Third Global Peace Education Webinar held on September 24, 9:30AM via Zoom and FB Live with the title “Teachers Well-Being: Challenges and Solutions” could not have been more timely.

There were 541 Zoom unique viewers (529 participants from the Philippines and 12 participants from 7 foreign). Among the 541 participants: 424 came from basic education, 98 from higher education, 15 from non-government organizations, and 4 from local government units. Meanwhile, Facebook data showed that the webinar reached close to 5,000 individuals.

The following were the panelists and speakers: Usec. Jesus Lorenzo R. Mateo, Undersecretary, Planning Service and Bureau of Human Resource and Organizational Development, Department of Education; Dr. Aldrin A. Darilag, Commissioner, Commission on Higher Education; Dr. Sherlyne A. Almonte-Acosta, Senior Specialist, Head, Educational Research Unit, Seameo-Innotech; and Dr. Tony Devine, International Vice President, Education, Global Peace Foundation. Dir. Catherine Lagadia, Director, Social Orientation and Community Development, National University served as webinar moderator and Dir. Ann Marlita Arevalo, Education Director, Global Peace Foundation Philippines, hosted the webinar.

“We do not find solutions not only on our own but with the help of our policymakers, with the leadership of our Hon. Sec. Briones and her team, our ExeCom, and our teachers”. Dr. Margarita Consolacion C. Ballesteros, Director IV, International Cooperation Office, Department of Education gave the heartwarming opening remarks. She encouraged viewers to engage in the chat box and comment section to truly feel the presence of each other in the education community.

The first panelist, Usec. Mateo, discussed the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) which provides education interventions to respond to the basic challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the principles of BE-LCP is to “protect the health and well-being of learners, teachers, and personnel”. Distance learning support such as Self- Learning Modules (SLMs), Learning Support Aides (LSA), Continuous Professional Development and Psychological Report for Teachers, Welfare and Wellness Interventions, Alternative Work Arrangements were provided by the Department of Education. Aside from the BE-LCP, DepEd updates the required health standards, case management protocol, ensure complete hygiene supplies and protective equipment to teachers, DepEd frontliners to be given priority for testing, quarantine, and treatment in DOH facilities, possible institutional arrangements with PhilHealth, set amount for testing, quarantines, and hospitalization expenses subsidy.

Teachers and non-teaching staff were given opportunities to upskill and reskill despite the pandemic to make sure that they are well-equipped to face the new school year in this new normal.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) sees teachers as an inspiration so everything that they do is to make sure that education continue to improve. Teachers are considered to be one of the crucial elements in our learning community. However, the challenges they face during this pandemic are different. Dr. Darilag shared research and studies from various professors of foreign universities where they highlighted the physical and mental stress brought about by the pandemic to the educators due to the imbalance on their personal and work life.

Teachers should be given the support that they need in order for them to effectively share their skills and values to their students. One cannot give something he/she does not possess, therefore, teachers must receive opportunities to improve themselves and support for their well-being.

The World Bank identified two key principles to ensure teacher effectiveness: (1) Support teachers instructionally; (2) Support teachers technologically. The CHED collaborate with different partners to make sure that the teachers and non-teaching staff can receive their instructional and technological support that they needed: capacity building, institutional connectivity, and monitoring and evaluation of flexible learning. They “commit to continue serving the teachers, college and university presidents and education leaders, non-teaching staff, and all personnel so that they may be able to perform their duties and responsibilities”.

Based on the analysis of Dr. Acosta on how the ministers of education in the different countries in the ASEAN handle teacher’s well-being, there were three emerging themes: Training for online teaching, safety in learning environment for countries with lower number of cases, and communication.

She then shared about the specific ways in which ASEAN countries provide support for their teachers’ well-being. In Brunei Darusalam, they have a hotline to enable the teachers to reach out regarding their conditions, problems, and concerns. In the Philippines, the DepEd make sure that the public school teachers still receive their salaries regularly. In Singapore and Myanmar, they make sure that teachers have gadgets to be able to carry out online teaching.

On ASEAN practices, how do we support teacher well-being? (1)Promote feeling of belonging amidst pandemic; (2) Provide opportunities for professional networks and learning; (3) Engage teachers in Decision-making.

“In times of crisis, we need Commitment to necessary Change(s) with Collaborative, Concern, and Constructive Colleagues” (Almonte-Acosta, 2020).

Dr. Devine shared some points raised by Dr. Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills OECD during the GPLC Africa last July to commend the efforts of the Philippines to pursue schooling and educating the students despite this trying time through various distance learning methods. Normally, when teachers conduct their classes, they usually do it in an isolated space but with our current set-up, there comes cross-sector community partnerships that requires really good teamwork between teachers and parents.

Moral and Innovative Leadership of teachers will cause positive impact on mental being because of the feeling of actually helping the students and parents throughout this time. Moral leadership promotes the greater good and aspires to unleash the potential of human beings. Innovative leadership is necessary to advance the human condition regardless of the situation. Teachers should be a character role model, a creative solution finder, and an interpersonal relationship builder especially now that we are using the distance learning set-up that requires other set of skills compared to physical classes. Teachers have to be continuous learners to be able to collaborate with the community and use new technology. This pandemic accelerated the idea of education as a whole society approach where all members of the community contribute to it. The goals is to transform the education system to transform our students.

Dr. Dinah F. Mindo. Education Program Chairperson and Trustee, Global Peace Foundation Philippines, delivered the closing remarks. She thanked the panelists, the foundation, and the viewers who supported the third Global Peace Education Webinar focusing on Teacher well-being.

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