Metrobank Foundation's Search for Outstanding Teachers
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Recognizing the valuable role that they play in imparting proper values and cultivating the skills and intellect of young students who represent the country's future, teachers have always been highly regarded in Asian societies. Imbued with this perspective, Dr. George S.K. Ty, Chairman of Metrobank and of the Metrobank Foundation, was disheartened to note that, back in 1984, many of the country's mentors were marching in the streets asking for better work conditions. He then conceived of an awards program, which would pay tribute to educators and extol teaching as a noble and rewarding profession. Thus was born the Search for Outstanding Teachers. Its objectives are:
a) to bestow honor upon the teaching profession by recognizing teachers who devote their lives to the development of the youth with exemplary competence and dedication; and b) to select outstanding teachers who will serve as models of excellence and morality in their respective spheres of influence.
The rules and regulations governing the Search were developed with the assistance of top educators. The criteria for judging were also developed by a working committed composed of teachers.
The Search is implemented in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
The Award Slots
The first batch of winners in 1985 consisted of ten awardees.
Initially, ten (10) awardees were chosen annually broken down as follows: four (4) at the elementary level and three (3) each at the high school and college levels. These awardees were chosen irrespective of the region where they come from.
In 1989, the number of slots was increased to twelve (12) and award categories were changed to allow for nationwide representation of winners, i.e., National Capital Region, Rest of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Both the elementary and high school categories have a winner for each geographical area, with an additional slot allocated for the elementary category, to reflect the fact that the majority of the country's teachers teach at this level. For the college category, however, awardees were simply categorized as coming from either NCR or the provincial areas.
Starting in 1997, slots were added for technical and vocational education teachers, in recognition of their pivotal role in the development of the country's blue-collar workforce and as the Foundation's contribution to the government's effort to mainstream technical-vocational education in the country's educational system. The Foundation partnered with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). From 1997-2000, the Foundation honored six (6) outstanding tech-voc teachers from state universities and colleges and private institutions in the country.
Beginning 2004, to celebrate the Search's 20th year anniversary, the number of awardees was restored to the original ten.
The Search for Outstanding Teachers is a year-round program, which involves the following phases: preparatory phase, information campaign, preliminary judging, semi-final judging, final judging, and awarding.
The judging process was initially done in four phases:
Phase 1 - A preliminary board of judges for each level, composed of noted educators and education administrators, rates the nominees' documents as to teaching competence, extra-curricular activities and community work. Phase 2 - Based on the ratings of the preliminary board of judges, the nominees are trimmed down to a smaller group, the semi-finalists, who usually number about forty (40). The Bank's own investigation teams then conduct discreet and thorough character and background investigation on these semi-finalists. The Foundation automatically disqualifies nominees with derogatory findings. Phase 3 - The preliminary board then chooses the semi-finalists who will undergo the preliminary interviews and are asked to demonstrate their teaching skills. The top 2 ranking candidates for each geographical area are declared finalists. Phase 4 - The Final Board of Judges composed of distinguished representatives from key sectors of society then selects the awardees. Members of the Cabinet, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Judiciary, Media and the Academe, as well as key officials of the government's educational agencies make up the Search's Final Board of Judges. Each Finalist is personally interviewed by the Board en banc. In 1997, the two-step nomination process was implemented to attract more nominees and to make it easier for the teachers to join.
For the first round, nominated teachers are required to submit their accomplished nomination forms only. The preliminary board of judges for each category then examines the nomination forms and determines whether or not the candidate will be invited to proceed to the next phase of the Search. If eligible, nominees are informed that they should send in supporting documents according to a prescribed format. The next step is the evaluation of documents by the same set of judges. Nominees who meet the cut-off score, as determined by the preliminary board, are subjected to a thorough background investigation, which need not necessarily mean qualification as semi-finalists. The top-ranking candidates who passed the background check are declared semi-finalists in their respective categories. The Semi-Final Judging and Final Judging then follow.
The audit firm of Sycip, Gorres and Velayo verifies and tabulates the ratings done by the Final Board. While there are award slots allocated, the Final Board may decide not to declare any winner if there are no qualified candidates in a particular category.
The Recognition Program
Since 1987, the awardees have been annually presented to the President of the Philippines in Malacañang, who honors the teacher-awardees by personally conferring on them their gold medallions.
In addition to the gold medallion, each awardee receives a cash prize and a trophy. Their school gets a plaque of recognition and financial assistance for faculty development. The original cash prize in 1985 was P10,000 and this has progressively increased through the years to P300,000 in 2008. The Foundation also shoulders round-trip plane fares of Regional Finalists, National Finalists and winners when they come to Metro Manila for the judging and awarding activities. Regional Finalists are given P10,000, while National Finalists receive P20,000.
The awardees are also given full honors annually during the anniversary of Metrobank, as the awarding ceremonies have always been the centerpiece of the Bank's anniversary celebration.
Since 1985, the Foundation has recognized a total of 286 outstanding teachers.
In 1997, past winners of the Search organized themselves into the Metrobank Foundation Network of Outstanding Teachers and Educators (NOTED) to partner with the Metrobank Foundation and other like-minded organizations in the promotion of a culture of excellence in teaching and implement projects for the enhancement of education in the country.