A carpenter repairs the desks in a classroom at the Looc Elementary School in Villa- nueva, Misamis Oriental yesterday.
Gerry Lee Gorit
New school year, same problems, say teachers
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - June 1, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Public school teachers will continue to face the same problems of low salary and unbearable workload as a new school year opens next week, according to various teacher organizations.

In a press conference in Quezon City yesterday, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) scored the Department of Education (DepEd) for allegedly masking the real state of education in the country.

Presenting data gathered from its members across the country, ACT said there are still schools that face old problems like the lack of classrooms and teachers, resulting in overcrowded classes.

ACT secretary-general Raymond Basilio also noted the supposed lack of non-teaching personnel in some public schools that result in teachers having to take over additional work such as being clerks and custodians.

He also cited the failure of the DepEd to deliver millions of instructional materials, requiring teachers to look for their own sources to use in the classrooms.

“The picture that the DepEd is trying to paint is different from the real state of our basic education sector,” Basilio said in Filipino.

In a recent press conference, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the country’s public schools are all set for the opening of classes on Monday.

Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo said reports of problems such as lack of classrooms and other facilities are isolated to only a handful of schools in different parts of the country.

Mateo said reports of congestion mainly come from areas with high population and limited space to build new buildings. 

Meanwhile, he said some schools in far-flung areas face problems such as the lack of access to electricity and water.

But according to Basilio, the reality is that there is still a huge shortage of teachers and classrooms nationwide.

He also stressed the need for additional schools, citing millions of out-of-school youth that have no access to education because there are no schools in their communities.

Salary hike

In a related development, the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) has urged the DepEd to ensure the welfare of teachers by providing them additional benefits and higher compensation.

“Come June 4, our teachers will once again be at the frontline of another battle, the continuing fight against illiteracy. However, we have to be equipped and armed with the necessary weapons – just compensation and provision of the mandated benefits under the existing laws,” TDC chair Benjo Basas said.

 He reiterated their group’s call for President Duterte to fulfill his campaign ?promise to provide salary increase for teachers.

“We recognize (the recent) pronouncement from the President. However, we do not know yet how it would be given and how much the amount would be,” he said, referring to Duterte’s statement last month that teachers will soon get salary hikes.

“We patiently waited for this promise since he took the presidency two years ago, while obviously, our brothers and sisters in the uniformed service were given priority. For the longest time, our calls for just compensation and treatment commensurate to our role in society have been neglected by the previous administrations,” Basas added.

Special assistant to the president Christopher Go had earlier said the salary hike for teachers would be given in 2020 following completion of the salary standardization law.

He did not specify the amount of the increase.

In his statement, Basas also urged the DepEd leadership to implement the provisions of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers passed in 1966.

“The DepEd is mandated to implement benefits under several provisions of the Magna Carta, those that have something to do with our welfare. These benefits are guaranteed by law, yet neglected for the longest time,” he said.

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