by Jerry E. Esplanada - Philippine Daily Inquirer

In the last Licensure Examinations for Teachers (LET), a total of 26,812 took the elementary level test while 23,975 took the secondary level exam.

Only one male examinee — Gian Carlo Auxilian, a graduate of St. Anthony’s College in Antique—made it to the top 10 in the elementary level.

In the secondary level, 11 of the 25 topnotchers were men, including Benedict Barayuga of Central Luzon University and Gerard Vincent Mendoza of the University of the Philippines-Diliman who tied for first place.

Out of the total 50,787 who took the April LET, 3,458 men passed the test or 25.8 percent of the total passers of 13,384.

More men passed the high school test 2,194 or 37.09 percent of the total passers in that level — compared to the 1,264 or 16.9 percent of total passers in the elementary level.

Professional Regulation Commissioner Nilo L. Rosas believes “male teachers can be as nurturing, caring and competent as their female counterparts.”

But male teachers, especially in public schools, had become an “endangered species,” said Rosas, the PRC commissioner in-charge of the teaching, engineering and accounting professions.

The former president of the state-run Philippine Normal University and undersecretary of the Department of Education lamented what seemed to be a perception shared by many people that teaching was a profession primarily for women.

At the recent oath-taking of those who passed the April LET at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City, Rosas said there was only one man out of every 10 teachers in the country.

Education Secretary Jesli A. Lapus said male teachers were a vanishing breed, accounting for only a very small portion of the entire teacher population in the country at present.

Women-poweredDepEd records furnished to the Philippine Daily Inquirer showed that 423,549, or 86.3 percent, of 491,338 teachers in public elementary and high schools all over the country were women.

Male teachers totaled 67,789 — 36,653 in the primary level and 31,436 in the secondary level — or 13.7 percent of the total.

The DepEd said the proportion of men to women teachers in individual provinces did not differ much from the national ratio.

Batanes, with only 56 men, topped the list of provinces with the least number of male public school teachers, DepEd files showed. It was followed by Camiguin (91), Siquijor (104), Apayao (119), Ifugao (137), Aurora (184), Kalinga (206), Biliran (209), Quirino (210), and Mt. Province (211). Pangasinan (2,691) topped the list of provinces with the most number of male teachers, followed by Iloilo (2,282), Cebu (2,172), Negros Occidental (1,515), Camarines Sur (1,513), Zamboanga del Norte (1,454), Zamboanga del Sur (1,449), Isabela (1,425), Leyte (1,421), and Nueva Ecija (1,293).

The DepEd has yet to release data on the teacher population in private schools. Over the years, the teaching profession had apparently failed to attract more male teachers, Lapus said.

His observation was shared by Igmidio Bisa, retired dean of technical education at the former Pablo Borbon Memorial Institute of Technology (now Batangas State University); Professional Regulation Commission chair Nicolas Lapeña, Jr., DepEd Region 3 Director Mario Ramirez, and University of the East president Ester Garcia.

Bisa, now 83, said there seemed to have been a shortage of male teachers for decades.

He said in his nearly 40 years with PBMIT, academic subjects were handled mainly by female teachers while the men were in charge of vocational courses like automotive, electronics, machine shop practice, woodwork and drafting.

Ramirez, who started 43 years ago as a barrio school teacher in Isabela, said in the early 1960s at the then Philippine Normal College (now university), only four of the 45 students in his class were men.Garcia, former Commission on Higher Education chairmanil, said there seemed to be a cultural bias against teaching as a profession for men. Many people, she said, thought of teaching as “pang-babae” (only for women).

PNU president Lutgardo Barbo did not have figures but agreed fewer men were taking up education.

DepEd Undersecretary Vilma Labrador stressed the need to encourage male high school graduates to take up education, saying there were subjects, like industrial arts, that could best be taught by men.“More importantly, we need the male factor—a father and a kuya—in the school (for) our children, one who could (be a) role model for boys,” she said. Lapus said, with teachers being “among the lowest-paid professionals”, men who were often the main breadwinners in their families, were reluctant to go into teaching.

Although the financial issue was now being addressed, the secretary said there was little likelihood the current situation would change in the near future.

Antonio Tinio, chairman of the militant Alliance of Concerned Teachers, said teaching had always been a female-dominated profession, an extension of the mother’s nurturing role in the family.

But Tinio, a UP Diliman instructor, noted that, despite the small number of male teachers, men seemed more likely to hold management positions.

He said there were more male principals and other school officials.

Even education secretaries had been mostly men, he pointed out.

Elmer Hilario, the only male teacher at Tagburos Elementary School in Puerto Princesa City, said he got funny looks when he told people his job.

But the 33-year-old Grade 4 teacher said he was happy and proud to be part of what was considered the noblest profession.