Sara: Pay hike for public teachers to cause closure of more private schools
MANILA, Philippines – Augmenting the salary of public school teachers will later force more private school shutdowns, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte said on Wednesday.
During the House appropriations committee deliberations on the proposed P710-billion Department of Education (DepEd) budget, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro asked Duterte about their plan to address the low pay and insufficient benefits of public school teachers.
In response, Duterte cited her meeting with Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma, who believes the “market standard for salaries should be the private sector.”
“Clearly, we see that there is a wide disparity between the salary of teachers in private schools,” she admitted.
Duterte further noted: “In this case, if the government continues to increase the salaries of teachers in the government sector, this will put undue pressure on the private educational institution. Thus, creating a mass migration of teachers from the private schools to the public schools, which we actually see now.”
According to her, this will “force more closures of private schools” because the benchmark should be the salary of private school teachers.
Castro, however, grilled Duterte’s response, noting that she had already heard such answers from the previous administrations.
Instead of comparing the salary of public school educators with their counterparts in private schools, she said their pay should be based on the current cost of living and many other relevant factors.
Duterte then said the DepEd will take note of Castro’s comments, and will “endorse that to the Department of Budget and Management, who decides on the salaries of government employees.”
‘Long overdue’ pay hike
Castro, in a separate statement, further expressed her disappointment over Duterte’s response.
She said the government has long denied public school teachers salary hikes by continuously comparing their pay with that of the private sector.
“The fact is, a substantial salary increase for teachers in the private sector is long overdue. Salaries of public school teachers should set the standard for salaries in the private school, not the other way around,” the lawmaker argued.
Castro also slammed the lack of concrete plans to back the “high target outcomes” earlier presented by the DepEd.
“Paano natin makakamit ang targets kung walang konkretong plano? Paano natin mabubusisi ang mga programa at polisiya ng DepEd kung tunay na makakatulong nga ba na makamit ang mga target o baka naman puro pahirap lamang ulit sa mga guro na papasan ng kakulangan ng ahensya ang maaasahan kung walang maipresentang plano,” she added.
(How can we achieve those targets without concrete plans? How can we scrutinize whether the programs and policies of the DepEd help fulfill those goals or will continue to harm the teachers who are bound to carry the burden left by an agency with no plans?)
Castro then vowed to continue reviewing the DepEd budget as they push for sufficient and adequately allocated funds “to address the worsening learning crisis in the country.”
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