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Business, professional groups back ‘moderated’ pay hike for public school teachers

/ 08:28 PM June 19, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Several business and professional organizations on Wednesday expressed support to a “moderated increase” in the pay of public school teachers. 

The groups – including the Action for Economic Reforms (AER), Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), Makati Business Club (MBC), Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), and the Philippine Business for Education (PBED) – said teachers play a big role in making Filipinos more competitive and productive. 

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“They deserve to be compensated better and given better training opportunities and tools, and we join other sectors in making that a goal,” they said in a statement.

Migration from private schools to public school

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While the groups supported the salary increase for public school teachers, they noted that three things must be considered: “fairness and equity of public school teachers’ pay compared to other civil servants, and the recent increases in their pay; fiscal affordability and sustainability, and the competing demands for other essential public expenditures; and the heavy economic and social effects, such as inflation, low growth, and unemployment, that go with spending beyond our means.”

According to them, further increasing the difference in pay between public and private school teachers would lead to increase in cases of teachers from private school opting to transfer to public school. 

“Raising the disparity in pay between public and private school teachers would further fuel the migration of private school teachers to public schools and exert financial pressures on private schools whose tuition fees are regulated by government,” the groups noted. 

Citing information from the regional labor force survey, the groups said public school teachers receive on average 71 percent more than private school teachers nationally. 

The groups, however, said that public school teachers also face other problems including lack of training opportunities, as well as lack of teaching materials such as books and school supplies. 

“There is also a lack of teachers and classrooms, resulting in big classes spread over the day in shifts. These must be addressed to alleviate the burden of teachers and improve the quality of education,” the groups noted. 

Moderated increase

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Public school teachers have been calling for a raise of P10,000 in their monthly salary amid rising prices of goods and services in the country. To meet their demands, the government will need to allot P150 billion for it.

This amount, the groups said, equates to roughly 1 percent of country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“To appreciate the magnitude of this, we note that the entire annual budget for the CCT (Conditional Cash Transfer) program, which benefits 4.3 million households and promises to break inter-generational poverty, will cost less than half of this. The difficult-to-pass TRAIN 1 raised less than half of this,” the groups said. 

The groups also noted that “unmanaged salary increases and poorly targeted subsidies” have resulted in economic collapse in some countries. 

“There is no identified recurring source of funding for this salary increase. As such, it will raise the national government annual fiscal deficit from 3 percent to 4 percent of GDP. The last time our fiscal deficit to GDP breached 4 percent was in 2002 and 2003, driving the country’s credit ratings down by two rungs,” the groups explained. 

“This led to higher borrowing cost to both government and private sectors, and lower investments. If the gains in managing our economy recently affirmed by the upgrade to just below ‘A’ are put at risk, our public school teachers will also suffer,” they added. 

With these points in consideration, the groups underscored the need for a “moderated increase” in the salary of public school teachers.

“We fully endorse the proposal of fiscal and education authorities for moderated adjustments in pay which are phased, reflect recent salary adjustments made, benchmarked to the market and other civil service employee comparators, count the benefits of TRAIN 1 on their take home pay, and are matched by new revenue,” they said.

“This should allow approach to the sought-for P10,000 salary increase over time,” they added. (Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)

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