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Teachers hit mandatory reporting beyond school year

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Teachers hit mandatory reporting beyond school year
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) yesterday raised concern over reports that some teachers are being required to physically report to schools even after the official end of the school year last June 24.

Some schools are using a previous memorandum issued by the Department of Education (DepEd), which allowed schools to adjust their calendar if class suspensions were declared over the past year, according to ACT spokesman Vladimer Quetua.

“This memo essentially extended work for teachers, for them to report to school. It disregards the teachers’ need for rightful rest and the reason they are giving would not pass as an exigency of service,” Quetua said.

He noted that Republic Act 1180, which set the number of school days to not more than 220, did not set a minimum number.

“The law extended the maximum number of school days from 200 to 220 precisely to have buffer days in case of emergencies, like the cancellation of classes in some regions in January to allow for health break, which the DepEd wrongly uses as the justification for extending the teachers’ workdays,” Quetua said.

“There are also 209 school days this school year. Even if we deduct the 12 maximum days of class cancellation during the health break, there were still 198 class days that teachers think have been sufficient to meet the learning objectives, given that they already did the necessary interventions. So as it is, there is no need for an extension of school days,” he added.

The ACT official pointed out that teachers should already be having their school break as their proportional vacation pay has always been computed based on the DepEd’s official school calendar.

“According to the DepEd calendar, June 24 is the last class day. So beyond this, teachers are supposed to be enjoying their teacher’s leave (the only leave benefits of teacher), which is paid through the proportional vacation pay,” he said.

“If the DepEd is to insist that there is exigency of service, there should be an order approved by the division that teachers are required to report, and there should be additional compensation or service credit for them,” he added.

‘Refine curriculum’

Meanwhile, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian yesterday said the curriculum of kindergarten to Grade 3 should be refined and focused more on literacy and numeracy as the incoming administration is set to review the K-12 program.

Gatchalian, who is set to retain his chairmanship of the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture in the incoming 19th Congress, noted that large-scale international assessments showed that the country’s learners are struggling in critical learning areas of mathematics and reading.

“This will have negative and long-term consequences on their future and the country as a whole,” he said.

“In order for us to address the crisis in the education sector, we need to focus on our students and make sure they are learning hard. We need to make sure that their foundation is solid, especially when it comes to reading and numbers because it depends on many more things they should learn,” he added.

The senator also cited the observation of experts who flagged the K-12 curriculum as too overcrowded and needing decongestion.

“Because learners are required to learn too many competencies, this affects their ability to master basic competencies,” he said.

Gatchalian proposed learning recovery programs that are intensive on reading and numeracy to address learning loss because of school closures due to COVID-19.

In Senate Bill 2355, or the Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning Program Act, which was filed during the recently concluded 18th Congress, his proposed learning recovery program covers the most essential learning competencies under language and mathematics for Grades 1 to 10 and science for Grades 3 to 10.

Reading will also be prioritized to develop the critical and analytical thinking skills of learners.

Literacy and numeracy competencies will be given focus for kindergarten learners to build on their foundational competencies.

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2019 showed that only 19 percent of Grade 4 learners in the Philippines met the minimum benchmark level required in Math.

Using pre-pandemic data, the World Bank (WB) has estimated that learning poverty – the percentage of children aged 10 who cannot read or understand a simple story – in the Philippines for 2021 is already at 90.5 percent.

The WB has also warned that because of COVID-19 school closures, learning poverty would rise by 10 percent in lower-middle-income countries like the Philippines. –  Cecille Suerte Felipe

ACT

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