/ 17 August 2020

THE PHILIPPINE Business for Education hosted an online alumni homecoming for its Scholarships for Teacher Education Programs to Upgrade Teacher Quality in the Philippines teacher-scholars nationwide.

STEP UP is a program in partnership with the Australian government, through its Basic Education Sector Transformation program, that has given the opportunity for the best and the brightest to teach in the Philippine public school system.

The event held on August 15, 2020 is part of the closeout campaign and preparations for the new school year.

Over six years, close to 1,000 students and professionals have graduated from the program which offered not only financial but psychosocial support to future teachers.

The homecoming event served as a celebration of the STEP UP alumni and what they represent: hope for the education system. Scholars, mentors, and partners from different parts of the Philippines gathered virtually to celebrate the gains of the program and encourage the teachers who will embark on a challenging task: teaching in the time of a pandemic.

“Teachers matter. In fact, research suggests that teacher quality is the single most important variable affecting student achievement. PBEd believes that quality education rests on quality teachers,” said PBEd Chairman Ramon del Rosario Jr.

“PBEd remains committed to helping our dearest scholars during this time. But we also continue in our work to raise teacher quality.”

PBEd-STEP UP’s initiatives and recommendations on aligning pre-service to in-service teacher development were highlighted during the event. Given the changing landscape of education in the Philippines and worldwide, participants called on the whole of Philippine society to participate in building back a better Philippine education system.

A study conducted to assess the impact of STEP UP on teacher quality and employment success yields encouraging results: STEP UP scholars are more likely to graduate from a teacher education degree or training program (70%) compared to non-scholars (22%), and more likely to pass the teachers’ licensure examination (84%) relative to non-scholars (32%). Raising interest among students and not currently teaching professionals in pursuing a career in the teaching profession has been among the greatest contributions of STEP UP.

“Teachers are the most important factor in ensuring learning continuity in these difficult times,” said His Excellency, Steven J. Robinson AO, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines.

“You, our teacher-scholars, will play a crucial role in securing the Philippines’ future as we emerge together from this pandemic. And I am confident that the support, mentoring, and training you have received from the STEP UP program has prepared you to become adaptive and innovative teachers.”

“We need teachers. What is education without teachers? What is technology without teachers? What is reading without teachers? Teachers and parents have the most important roles,” said an impassioned Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones as she buoyed up the teacher-participants.

“EduKalidad is a challenge and we have to help the economy recover. I hope you will stay on in the department. We need people of your caliber, of your enthusiasm, and your training, and more important: we need people with your kind of commitment to the teaching of our learners.”

“You have the capacity to shape our society by training the young minds that will be our future leaders. The positive influence you can have on your students cannot be measured. Especially now that we are facing so many challenges, your role in helping our next generation is even more important. You can be assured that PBEd will continue on this journey with you. Our simple ask is that you fulfil what this program has advocated from the start: please teach and please be the best,” said Ed Chua, member of the PBEd board in his closing statement.

Despite the project’s closeout, everyone is encouraged to contribute to the sustainability of STEP UP’s goal of improving teacher quality by taking part in the #ThankYouTeacherChallenge to show support for all the teachers as they start another year with unique challenges.