Teachers’ group bats for remedial education sector policies
MANILA, Philippines — A teacher’s group on Monday said the current administration, in its first year, did not fare too well in handling and addressing the needs of the education sector and called for an “immediate remediation” of policies.
During a press briefing on Monday, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) stressed the need for an “immediate remediation” in policies implemented by the government, particularly by the Department of Education (DepEd).
ACT mentioned its 10-point challenge issued to the government, all of which received unsatisfactory remarks from teachers:
- Double the education budget (not prioritized)
- Reopen schools safely (not prioritized)
- Implement evidence-based education recovery program (not prioritized)
- Provide sufficient learning and teaching resources (not prioritized)
- Overhaul K-12/ Restore Philippine History in high school and Wika at Panitikan in college (not prioritized)
- Upgrade teachers’ and education workers’ salaries (abandoned)
- Hire education support personnel (abandoned)
- Improve education workers’ benefits (abandoned)
- Enact Magna Carta for private school teachers (abandoned)
- Uphold academic freedom and union rights (gravely violated)
“In our 10 demands for the education sector, for the demands of our teachers and sectoral institutions, the condition of our teachers as overworked, underpaid, under-supported remains and now we are also under attack,” ACT National Capital Region Union president Ruby Bernardo said in Filipino.
“In talks about the right to education, the right to good conditions for our teachers, and support for our economic and democratic rights, it really has been unprioritized, abandoned and gravely violated. That’s why the verdict of our teachers is that this needs immediate remediation,” she added.
ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro started off the briefing by saying that while there was an increase in the budget allocated to the education sector when President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assumed office, it was still not enough to address the many needs of public school institutions.
“The budget of DepEd for 2022 is P633.2 billion, it increased slightly in 2023 at P710.6 billion. If we look at this budget, it goes short of the international standard of six percent of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) being allocated to education to cover — maybe not all the needs but just to address immediate concerns brought by a larger student population,” Castro said.
“If we would use this as a basis, our budget is only 3.6 percent of the [GDP]. While they say that DepEd’s budget is the highest among many agencies, we can see that this is below what the department needs. In fact, if we would look at it nominally, the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) and infrastructure sector gets a higher budget,” she added.
ACT Philippines chairperson Vladimer Quetua said that calls to increase teachers’ and education staffers’ salaries are still unattended, just like in the past administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte — father of Vice President Sara Duterte who concurrently is also DepEd head.
“None of the proposed bills we have filed regarding salary increase has moved in Congress or the Senate,” Queta said.
“You know we are called professionals, but our salaries are servile, so much that we cannot simultaneously provide a good education for all of our children, we cannot afford to treat them to nice canteens, we cannot bring them to leisurely trips which should be the case. That’s why many of us are deep in debt, leading teachers to do part-time jobs,” he added.
ACT secretary-general Raymond Basilio said in the same briefing that teachers panicked after hearing that DepEd is requesting a list containing ACT Union members availing of the automatic payroll deduction system (APDS) — as they immediately thought it was a means of profiling, just like what happened in the past.
DepEd however, assured ACT member-teachers that no profiling is being done against the group and the union, saying that similar lists of teachers using the APDS were requested for other faculty groups and organizations.
The department also said that the request for lists was only made after employees complained about wrong salary deductions while using the APDS. (With reports from Kirsten Segui, INQUIRER.net trainee)