DepEd urged to hire more teachers to ease load and reduce class sizes

DepEd urged to hire more teachers to ease load and reduce class sizes
Teachers at Jose Dela Peña National High School in Marikina City undergo webinar training on e-learning on July 21, 2020.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines —  A teachers' group on Thursday urged the Department of Education to hire more teachers ahead of the opening of classes on October 5. 

This comes after Education Undersecretary Jess Mateo during a virtual briefing Monday revealed that DepEd is planning to hire learning support aides (LSAs) to supplement the pandemic-induced transition to blended learning this coming school year. 

LSAs were defined by Mateo as "qualified individuals who can work together with a teacher in providing learning opportunities using various learning delivery modalities that promote achievement and progression of learners."  

Following this announcement, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers urged DepEd to instead hire at least 150,000 teachers with their own teaching load. 

ACT said hiring more teachers would allow for either the lessening of teaching time from six hours to five or the reduction of class sizes to 40 students instead of 50. 

"The group forwards the hiring of retrenched private school teachers as priority, then the hiring of college graduates with a degree in education to augment the agency’s teaching workforce," ACT Secretary-General Raymond Basilio said. 

"The shift to remote learning and the lack of ample state support for such has more than doubled the workload—not to mention the expenses—of already overworked public school teachers. This will likely result in further decline of education quality and burn out among our educators," he added. 

ACT estimated that DepEd would need P45 billion to hire 150,000 teaching personnel "with a salary similar to that of a Teacher 1," which is a monthly basic salary of around P20,574 as of 2019. The group added that these funds can be sourced from the Central Office’s "huge allocation" for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE). 

"Since we want these personnel to perform teaching tasks, it’s only fair that they be given salaries similar to what other teachers currently receive, unlike DepEd’s proposal to pay para-teachers a measly P6,000–P11,000. This will also give them a head start in public schools that can be their edge for regularization upon meeting the minimum requirements,” Basilio added. 

Undersecretary Mateo on Monday said DepEd plans to compensate LSAs according to the minimum daily wage rates set by the National Wages Productivity Commission per region. 

Basilio said that the estimated P45 billion needed to hire 150,000 teachers is "highly realizable with proper budget prioritization and can be a start at improving the quality of education in the country." 

"Furthermore, this is a step towards achieving Undersecretary Mateo’s pronouncement of cutting down classes to 20 students each which will entail at least the doubling of DepEd’s present teaching workforce," he added. 

Ease 'congested' workload of teachers

Basilio further cited the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers which provides that teachers must teach only a maximum of six hours while the remaining two hours of their shifts should be used for other teaching-related tasks. 

Given what he called the different and more complicated form of teaching required by blended learning, Basilio urged DepEd not to rigidly impose the maximum hours allowed by RA 4670 especially given the shortages in government funding. 

Sen. Win Gatchalian on Monday called for a Senate probe into the implementation of the same law, citing what he called the "congested" workload of teachers this coming school year. 

"Even with these provisions in the Magna Carta, teachers are burdened with non-teaching tasks, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country,"  Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on basic education, said.

He pointed out that, even before the opening of classes, teachers and principals are already juggling multiple tasks such as preparing learning materials, attending webinars, and completing courses on various learning modalities. 

The senator also emphasized that teachers "receive additional designations on student guidance, budget, disaster response, and health," citing a February 2019 policy paper from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). 

He added that teachers are also expected to participate in government programs such as mass immunization, deworming, feeding, and election, among others.

"Our teachers and principals can be considered frontliners in the continuation of education despite the threat of COVID-19. Part of safeguarding their welfare is to ensure that they are not overwhelmed by too much work," Gatchalian said in Filipino. — Bella Perez-Rubio

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SCHOOL YEAR 2020-2021

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 12, 2022 - 10:42am

Follow this thread for updates on when classes will resume, and how those classes will be conducted.

Photo: Students wearing protective face masks have their temperatures taken while entering their college campus in Manila on January 31, 2020. AFP/Ted Aljibe

July 12, 2022 - 10:42am

DepEd says School Year 2022-2023 "shall open on Monday, August 22, 2022, and shall end on July 7, 2023. It shall consist of 203 school days or as may be determined by further issuance/s in case of changes in the school calendar due to unforeseen circumstances."

April 18, 2022 - 10:11am

Sen. Nancy Binay calls on the Commission on Higher Education and the inter-agency task force on COVID-19 not to "burden" students over requirements for face-to-face classes.

Higher educations students are being required to present medical insurance and other documents before participating in face-to-face classes.

“This is a cumbersome and unnecessary requirement para sa college students, considering that by law, all Filipinos are automatic members of PhilHealth. Sa totoo lang, 'di kailangang dagdagan ang proseso, dapat nga mas simplehan pa,” Binay says.

November 12, 2021 - 9:10am

The Department of Education announces that it will increase the number of participating schools in the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes.

"The expansion of the number of pilot schools will allow a greater degree of experience among all our regions that will serve us well for the expanded phase of face-to-face classes," DepEd says.

November 10, 2021 - 6:56pm

COVID-19 immunization has started for tertiary students in Ilocos Norte as part of the massive vaccination campaign of the Commission on Higher Education. 

This in preparation for the reopening of in-person tertiary classes, CHED-Regional Office 1 said as a ceremonial vaccination of students at Mariano Marcos State University was held on Monday in collaboration with the Department of Health, Department of Interior and Local Government, the provincial government and Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center. 

About 800 students are expected to be inoculated through the CHED immunization drive. 

Prior to this, MMSU had already vaccinated 75% of its student population. — The STAR/Artemio Dumlao

September 28, 2021 - 8:13pm

President Rodrigo Duterte has authorized limited face-to-face classes for the following programs: 

  1. Engineering and Technology programs
  2. Hospitality/ Hotel and Restaurant Management
  3. Tourism/ Travel Management
  4. Marine Engineering
  5. Marine Transportation

Commission on Higher Education Chairman Popoy De Vera, who made the announcement, said the authorization applies to "degree programs that require hands-on experience in higher education institutions under Modified General Community Quarantine."

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