13 December 2011

Must teachers retire at 65?

 It is difficult to prescribe when a teacher must retire. The mandatory retirement age for government employees is 65, but who can really say when a teacher has outgrown his/her usefulness.
For sure, there are those who, even at the “tender” age of 50, are no longer capable to teach. This could be for any reason: a sudden ailment, disability due to a serious illness or accident, mental incapacity, or sheer fatigue.
Others may just lose interest in the teaching profession.
Still, there are mentors who feel that they can go on teaching even at age 70. And there are countless of teachers who believe that quitting the job they’ve held for decades would bring them closer to illness.
These are teachers who look at their work as their lifeblood, whose undiluted devotion can’t be questioned, and who would have to be dragged, struggling, into the dark world of retirement.
These teachers are the reasons why government should rethink its policy of forced retirement its policy of forced retirement, at least in the education sector. Voluntary retirement is better.
Teachers should decide when to retire
When a teacher approaching retirement makes the decision to stay on in the job, school authorities can then review his performance and physical condition and assess if this particular teacher deserves to be given an extension. Teachers whose terms have been extended can then undergo yearly assessment to determine if he or she remains fit and able to perform his/her job.
Under this system, schools would not have to lose able teachers due to old age. Relaxing the rules on retirement for the education sector greatly ease the shortage of able and experienced teachers. Mentors should be allowed to teach when they are still strong enough and capable, to perform their tasks.
On the other hand, teachers who decide to quit before reaching the retirement age should be allowed to collect the benefits they are entitled to.
Sometimes, teachers go on voluntary leave. This is true when that mentor receives a grant to do research, write a book or study. Such assignments, especially when contracted by the government, mean that teachers are not merely limited to teaching, but also participate in activities needed to run a school or improve the system. Grants received by various schools from private enterprise are recognition of the pivotal role teachers’ play in society.
Should a teacher go on voluntary leave with the consent of the school, his retirement savings should be augmented. For as long as he is connected with the school, there is no reason why that school should not continue paying his social benefits. If he has an assignment to do research for a private firm or government agency, he is technically still under the employ of that school and some arrangement between the schools, government or private company should be made regarding the continuous augmentation of his retirement savings.
What is the best age for teachers to retire
No government agency or private entity can really wisely answer that. Only the teacher knows when he has become useless, when he has reached that point when he can no longer contribute to the teaching and molding of young minds.
A teacher knows when he no longer has the strength, intelligence, or will to teach.

(The author is the present Principal of Baua National High School, Gonzaga Cagayan.)




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