Private school teachers lobby for better aid, wage subsidy in Bayanihan 2
File photo from January 16, 2018, shows teachers at a payhike rally.
The STAR/Edd Gumban
Private school teachers lobby for better aid, wage subsidy in Bayanihan 2
(Philstar.com) - August 13, 2020 - 11:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A group of teachers and personnel from the private education sector on Thursday called for better support from the government amid the novel coronavirus crisis.

"The Alliance of Concerned Teachers – Private Schools....calls for better government support to displaced private school teachers and personnel nationwide, as Congress is set to convene in a bicameral session to finalize the provisions of House Bill No. 6953 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One (BARO) act," a statement issued by the group read.

The Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to convene the bicameral conference committee in the coming days to reconcile conflicting provisions of their respective versions of the Bayanihan Act 2, which is intended to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country.

The Senate version of the measure has a fund of P140 billion while the House on Monday passed a recovery fund of P162 billion.

The lower chamber's version of the bill designated P300 million to provide one-time cash assistance to private school teachers and personnel but ACT Private Schools argues that this amount is not nearly enough.

"We reiterate that a one-time cash assistance of [P5,000-P8,000] will not rectify the past [six] months of state neglect, and will not at all suffice to cover our present needs. We deserve more than just crumbs from the government," ACT Private Schools Secretary-General Jonathan Geronimo said.

"Private school teachers and workers have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Reports showed that during the March to May [enhanced community quarantine], 409,757 private school teachers and staff stopped receiving their regular salaries in 'no work, no pay' schemes."

The group said it also conducted its own survey among its members which showed that over 4,000 private school teachers were not qualified for government support under Bayanihan 1.

Meantime, Geronimo emphasized that even before the pandemic, private school employees were already suferring "from poor working conditions due to low salaries and contractualization." 

Given these conditions, and with classes set to reopen in less than two weeks, the group listed four demands on behalf private school workers:

  • better and more dignified aid
  • wage subsidy to teachers and staff
  • zero-interest loans for small to medium-sized private schools to sustain their operations
  • an allocation of funds for the health and safety of private school teachers and personnel

"If President [Rodrigo] Duterte and legislators truly value...educators, [they] should provide a dignified aid of at least [P10,000] per month from March to August," Geronimo said.

He further explained that a government to wage subsidy "for teachers and staff in small to medium-sized private schools (SMPS) starting September until December" would help in deterring "further retrenchments." — Bella Perez-Rubio

COVID-19 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS PRIVATE SCHOOLS
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