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DepEd to help personnel on overborrowing woes

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) is exploring measures that will enable teaching and non-teaching personnel to manage their finances to address the problem of overborrowing, Education Secretary Leonor Briones has said.

Among these measures are the reduction of interest rates on loans through the expansion of the DepEd Provident Fund and coordination with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) on loan buyouts, which will restructure employee-borrowers’ private lending institution (PLI) loans.

GSIS will also be asked to offer lower interest rates on a longer payment term.

In an address to more than 300 DepEd regional and division officials, local government unit delegates and non-government organization stakeholders present in the ongoing 2017 National Literacy Conference at the Oriental Legazpi Hotel in Albay, Briones noted that the issue of teachers’ debts is a decades-old drama starring the teachers as borrowers, the GSIS and PLIs as lenders and the DepEd, which deducts loan payments authorized by teachers to be paid to GSIS and PLIs.  

Of these four actors, the DepEd benefits the least – merely deducting loan payments on the basis of authorizations issued by the borrower, according to the education chief.

The damage caused by overborrowing on the lives of teachers and their families has been going on for years and it can no longer continue, Briones stressed.

In 2016 alone, 26,000 teachers could not avail themselves of their retirement benefits due to unpaid loans.

DepEd then initiated intensive financial literacy courses to teachers. 

“Two new laws mandate us to teach financial literacy to students,” Briones said, referring to Republic Act 10679 or An Act Promoting Entrepreneurship and Financial Education among Filipino Youth and RA 10922 or An Act Declaring the Second Week of November of Every Year as Economic and Financial Literacy Week.

“But I think if you want to teach financial literacy to students, you have to start with the teachers,” she added.

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