‘Our only chance to rest’: Teachers groan under weight of extended work order
MANILA, Philippines—With the Department of Education (DepEd) saying that classes will start on Aug. 22, teachers were expected to have a two-month break, but the group Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) said “it looks like we will be deprived of it, too”.
TDC, a federation of public school teachers’ associations all over the country, stressed on Monday (June 13) that the DepEd should clarify Department Order (DO) No. 025 series of 2022.
The DO, signed by Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan, stated that “End-of-School Year (EOSY) classes shall be done from Mondays to Fridays [and] the delivery mode of instruction shall preferably be face to face”.
A structured instructional or formal learning experience in schools, EOSY classes are both remedial and enrichment classes offered within a prescribed number of days during the two-month break of each school year.
The TDC, however, said the DepEd order “will extend the work of teachers beyond the school year,” stressing that this would deprive them of the guaranteed two-month vacation.
“This policy should be clarified because we expect teachers to enjoy a two-month vacation between the closing and opening of school years. We have the right under the law,” said Benjo Basas, national chairperson of TDC.
No time to rest
Based on DO No. 029 series of 2023, the 209-day SY 2021-2022, opened last year, Sept. 21, and is set to end on June 24, with commencement exercises expected to take place from June 27 to July 2, 2022.
This gives teachers a 21-day break before July 24, the start of the remedial and enrichment classes, and a 9-day break between Aug. 12—the last day of the EOSY classes—and August 22—the proposed opening of 215-day SY 2022-2023.
However, as implemented in previous school years, the Brigada Eskwela and Oplan Balik Eskwela, which both last for 21 days (Mondays to Fridays), usually take place 29 days before the opening of classes.
For Basas, because of requirements, online activities, physical reporting, virtual and physical classes, and clerical tasks even in this time of pandemic, “teachers are now exhausted and [they] badly need a breather to prepare for another school year”.
“This vacation is the only one that we are looking forward to, but it seems that we will be deprived of it, too,” he said.
DO 025 series of 2022 amended DO 013 series of 2018, which is the Implementing Guidelines on the Conduct of Remedial and Advancement Classes during Summer for the K-12 Basic Education Program.
The 2018 order used the term “summer classes” since learners, back then, attended school in April and May. However, since these classes will now be held from July to August, the term was amended to “EOSY classes”.
Remedial classes, the DepEd said, are for Grades 1 to 10 learners who got failing grades in not more than two learning areas, while enrichment classes are for Grades 1 to 11 learners who got 75 to 79 marks.
The department stressed that the conduct of enrichment classes is one of the strategies in its Learning Recovery Plan to improve learners’ level of attainment of the Most Essential Learning Competencies.
Last 2020, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2019 (TIMSS) revealed that the Philippines, with a score of 297 and 249, lagged behind other countries in mathematics and science assessments.
The Philippines only took part in the Grade 4 assessment. The TIMSS results showed that less than 50 percent of grade 4 learners were receiving instructions with “high clarity”.
Sen. Win Gatchalian said then that this only strengthened the need to improve the quality of teacher education and training as the country’s basic education sector struggles with these crises:
- Learners failing to master basic competencies
- The Philippines lagging behind in global assessments
Love for learners still prevails
Violeta Camba, an elementary school teacher in Isabela province, told INQUIRER.net that if she will only think of herself, she would ask the DepEd to give teachers the two-month break to rest and prepare for the next school year.
However, as a teacher, she said she likewise needs to think of learners: “I need to sacrifice so that I’ll be able to help them, especially those who cannot even read and the learners with parents who don’t care if their children can read or write.”
This was the reason that Basas and TDC were asking for a conversation with Malaluan or even Education Secretary Leonor Briones to discuss the details of the order which will be implemented by Vice President-elect Sara Duterte-Carpio.
“We won’t refuse work, especially if it is for children. But the DepEd should also consider the welfare of teachers,” he said as he stressed that they are still hoping for the last time that the current DepED leadership will heed their call.
“If there would be an exigency of service, the ready justification for extended work, then the provision of the law for overtime pay should also be observed. That is clear under our Magna Carta,” Basas said.
TDC earlier called on the department to fully implement the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, saying that while it may not totally eliminate the ills of the education sector, it will greatly contribute to solving the problems.
Currently, this is how much public school teachers are receiving:
- Teacher I: P23,877
- Teacher II: P26,052
- Teacher III: P28,276
- Master Teacher I: P43,681
- Master Teacher II: P48,313
- Master Teacher III: 54,251
- Master Teacher IV: P60,901
The Magna Carta for Public School Teachers was enacted in 1966, however, many of its provisions, Basas said, were “left unimplemented”. He said teachers still do not enjoy the honoraria for teaching overload or the overtime pay.
Stressed out, overworked
While Basas recognized that there have been existing instructions on remedial classes, he stressed that the department should likewise consider that “we are still in the middle of the pandemic”.
“We hope that we can talk to them. They are not even asking us regarding our concerns on the order […] the ‘peculiarities’ should be considered,” he said as he told the DepEd to give them time to rest.
Last year, the group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines likewise asked the department to address the “serious welfare issues” of public school teachers, saying that the issues “erode their capacities, health and morale”.
This came as it revealed that out of 6,731 public school teachers surveyed from March 29 to April 11, 2021, 70 percent said workload, especially for distance learning, “negatively impacts physical and mental health”.
ACT Philippines said 10 percent of respondents even fell ill because of problems with distance learning and “burdensome duties”.
This, as 41 percent of respondents in Metro Manila and 29 percent of respondents outside the region were working for 9 hours to 16 hours and beyond on class days.
“Public school teachers’ longer working hours operate within the context of the extended school year that deprived them of their rightful proportional vacation pay after serving a maximum of 220 class days in a school year,” it said.