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Marcos urged to increase education budget

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
Marcos urged to increase education budget
A teacher guides her pupils with their tasks as face-to-face classes resume at St. Mary Elementary school in Marikina City on June 20, 2022, Monday.
THE STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) has given a 10-point challenge to the incoming administration of president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in addressing the education crisis, among them doubling the annual budget for the education sector and resuming face-to-face classes in all schools nationwide.

“Now that the Philippine education system is embroiled in an unprecedented crisis, game-changing measures are urgently needed to overturn the decline of education quality and to sufficiently capacitate the education system to perform its role in nation building,” ACT Philippines secretary general Raymond Basilio said yesterday.

“To achieve this goal, especially for the education sector, we are challenging president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and vice president-elect Sara Duterte, who will take on the education secretary portfolio, to implement these 10-point measures of the education sector,” Basilio added.

The group laid out its policy recommendations to the incoming administration during the ACT Philippines’ 16th national congress held in Quezon City yesterday and attended by hundreds of teachers.

Among the group’s recommendations is to “double the education budget to fulfill the United Nation’s standard of allocating an education budget equivalent to six percent of the country’s gross domestic product.”

The ACT said the Marcos administration must also “fulfill the requirements for the safe conduct of face-to-face classes in 100 percent of schools nationwide.”

The group added that this could be done by hiring enough teachers to effectively cut down the class size and by building additional facilities.

Marcos must also order student assessments nationwide “to determine the nature and extent of the learning crisis as well as design and implement an evidence-based education recovery program.”

Students and teachers must also be provided with sufficient and quality teaching and learning resources, including gadgets, textbooks, modules and internet allowance.

With regard to the administration’s plan to review the Kindergarten to Grade 12 or K-12 basic education program, ACT said Philippine History must be reinstated in the high school curriculum, “with stress on factual martial law education to counter historical distortion.”

Meanwhile, Filipino and Philippine Literature must be restored in the tertiary curriculum.

The group also called for the upgrade of the salary level of teachers and education support personnel – Salary Grade 15 for Teacher I, SG 16 for Instructor I and P16,000 monthly salary for SG I employees.

It said the new Department of Education (DepEd) leadership must also order the hiring of additional education support personnel “to unload teachers of burdensome administrative duties and enable them to focus on instruction.”

The ACT also called for better benefits and compensation for teachers and education personnel, such as granting of 15 days sick leave.

Go vows support for education sector

In a related development, Sen. Bong Go vowed to pursue legislative measures that would support the education sector as he commended President Duterte’s executive order establishing an expanded career progression system for public school teachers.

Go emphasized that Executive Order 174 establishes the expanded career progression system for public school teachers and seeks to “promote professional development and career advancements among public school teachers, and define the career lines of teachers within the public school system.”

“We will continue to look for ways to provide support to our educational sector so that the education of our Filipino youth does not stop,” he said.

“If we want to prosper, we must give great importance to the welfare of teachers to organize the education of our youth, especially in literacy and numeracy,” he added.

The senator lauded the President for issuing EO 174, which encourages public school teachers to advance in their careers by establishing new position titles with associated salary grades.

Go noted that public school teachers’ career progression system should be enhanced further to increase chances for professional development and career advancement.

“As the nation confronts the COVID-19 pandemic and the educational system adjusts to the new normal, our teachers’ crucial responsibility in guaranteeing the ongoing delivery of learning has become even more difficult,” he said.

“It is only right that we lay down policies that aim to support their profession and give them the opportunity to further improve their role as shapers of the minds of our youth,” he added.

The EO will help teachers continue giving students quality education, according to Go.

The Department of Budget and Management is directed by the EO to create the additional position titles of Teacher IV, V, VI and VII as well as Master Teacher V.

Likewise, School Principal I, II, III and IV are added to the career line of school administrators.

The Civil Service Commission’s minimal requirements and qualifications must be met in order to advance to the Master Teacher I and School Principal I posts.

The DepEd stated that it is “jubilant” about the timely issuance of the EO.

In March, it sought to have new teaching levels to expand promotional opportunities for teachers.

The agency said some teachers are stuck on the Teacher III level since the Master Teacher I position requires a high level of requirements.

Go has long been advocating for the welfare of the country’s teachers. He previously urged the national government to provide additional support for public school teachers, citing the hardships they are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. –  Cecille Suerte Felipe

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