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Bongbong Marcos: Education ‘bedrock of prosperous society’

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Bongbong Marcos: Education âbedrock of prosperous societyâ
A teacher at Rafael Palma Elementary School in Manila receives flowers and a cake from her students yesterday to mark World Teachers’ Day.
Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — As the country celebrated World Teachers’ Day yesterday, President Marcos underscored the importance of education, calling it the “bedrock” of society and lauding educators for the sacrifices and efforts to help students reach their goals.

“I firmly believe that education is the bedrock of every prosperous society, and that those who dedicate their lives to teaching are important drivers of our nation,” Marcos said in a statement.

“Let this day be a culmination of a month-long celebration in which we acknowledge the many sacrifices that our teachers make to mold our students and prepare them so that they can achieve their dreams in life,” he added.

The occasion was a time to honor teachers nationwide for ensuring the youth’s holistic development “as they aspire to be agents of change within their respective communities and beyond,” according to the President.

He expressed hope that National Teachers’ Day will inspire educators to continue shaping the lives of young learners and motivate those who dream to be “agents of genuine unity and empowerment.”

“This is also a good opportunity to express our sincerest appreciation for their invaluable service to the nation as we safely reopen our schools and bring forth a new era of learning amid the post-pandemic world,” he said.

Marcos is optimistic that with the help of teachers, the Philippines will “grow stronger with every Filipino becoming more capable of building a better future for all.”

In 2016, the late former president Benigno Aquino III signed Republic Act 10743 into law, declaring Oct. 5 every year as National Teachers’ Day.

Under the law, all heads of state agencies and instrumentalities and private sector employers shall encourage and afford time and opportunities for their employees to participate in any activity related to the celebration conducted within their offices.

VP, First Lady in Abra

First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos yesterday joined Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte in the annual celebration of National Teachers’ Day in Bangued, Abra.

Marcos, an educator, paid tribute to teachers and urged them to continue their “unwavering service and commitment to the Filipino youth.”

“To all the teachers out there, please know that we all recognize your hard work and all the sacrifices you have made to make the art of learning possible,” she said in her message.

“You have ensured the delivery of quality education to many Filipinos. You did this despite the many challenges that came your way, especially during the pandemic. For this, we are all grateful to you,” she added.

The First Lady also expressed gratitude to Duterte and the Department of Education (DepEd) for providing “welfare benefits” to teachers.

In her speech, Duterte expressed gratitude to the people of Abra for their support to her and her father, former president Rodrigo Duterte.

The Vice President said the main program was held in the province to provide “moral support” to teachers who have been affected by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake last July 27.

Similar programs were held for teachers in various parts of the country.

“Our teachers are our country’s pride, and we have to highlight the importance of their role in nation-building,” Duterte said in Filipino. “Our teachers are very important in molding the youth, who are the future of our country.”

Before the program, Duterte visited Bangued North Elementary School to discuss with teachers problems in the education sector, including the lack of classrooms and facilities.

The Vice President and education chief said she explained to the teachers the budget constraints that prevent the DepEd from immediately addressing the issues.

The DepEd’s proposed 2023 budget is only enough to cover the construction of 2,379 new classrooms out of the estimated requirement of around 91,000.

Campaign promises

Meanwhile, teachers are urging Marcos to fulfill his campaign promises to the education sector as he marks his 100th day in office this week.

In a statement in time for World Teachers’ Day, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said uplifting the conditions of teachers is central to education recovery.

“The gravity of the current education crisis brought about by decades of state neglect has rendered our teachers more overworked, underpaid and undersupported than ever,” ACT chairman Vladimer Quetua said.

“Miserly government spending on education has created big shortages in schools, classrooms, facilities, teachers, education support personnel and teaching and learning resources,” he added.

A major issue that teachers are facing is the bulk of work that they have to do, such as handling additional classes or fulfilling other duties in schools due to lack of non-teaching staff.

“We will not be able to propel education recovery without resolving the teachers’ problems on overwork, low salaries and lack of government support,” Quetua said.

“We will not be able to negate the impacts of the pandemic to education if the government does not effect bold and game-changing measures that can alter the course of our declining educational system,” he added.

During the campaign, Marcos vowed to address issues hounding the education sector, including raising the salary of teachers.

Duterte, however, after assuming the education secretary post, nixed calls to upgrade teachers’ salaries in the public sector as it would widen the pay gap with those employed in private schools.

Teachers are pushing for an upgrade to their salary grade to match the salaries of nurses employed in public hospitals.

Aside from pay hike, the ACT also called for easing of workload, additional compensation for work outside regular duties and provision of laptop, internet allowance and higher cash allowance for every teacher.

It also pushed for the implementation of an evidence-based education recovery plan and the overhaul of the K-12 system.

“This education crisis has only deepened after two years of school closures under the pandemic. How else, however, can we rise above this situation when the dire conditions of our teachers, which was brought about by the grave educational crisis, is now bogging down education recovery?” Quetua said.

“It is high time for the government to once and for all address the problems of our teachers and of education, as President Marcos has promised during his presidential campaign, and urgently heed the teachers’ demands,” he added.

Benefits

Six congressmen have filed two measures that will encourage public school teachers to pursue post-graduate studies and at the same time enjoy other financial emoluments as the country celebrated National Teachers’ Day yesterday.

House Bill 4697 granting “scholarships” to teachers was filed by Reps. Paolo Duterte of Davao City, Eric Yap of Benguet and Edvic Yap and Jeffrey Soriano of ACT-CIS party-list while HB 456 was authored by Reps. Jocelyn Tulfo of ACT-CIS and Ralph Tulfo of Quezon City.

The Duterte-led piece of legislation is aimed at further professionalizing the ranks of public school educators by offering them scholarships for their graduate and post-graduate studies.

Scholarships cover teachers, guidance counselors, school librarians, industrial arts and/or vocational instructors and other persons performing supervisory and administrative functions either on a full-time or part-time basis in public schools, colleges and universities.

HB 4697 also aims to ease the economic burden of public school teachers by providing educational cash assistance to their children enrolled in college courses in state universities and colleges.

“The role of teachers goes beyond the four walls of the classroom and their work schedule. Outside of their lesson plans, they instill moral and civic values to the Filipino youth. They invest their knowledge, time and energy in molding our youth. It is high time for the state to do the same for our educators, who are considered among the pillars of our society,” the authors stated.

HB 456, or the “Teachers for the Barrios Act,” aims to amend Section 19 of RA 4670, or the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, to specifically include public school teachers assigned to far-flung communities in the grant of hardship allowance.

Under the proposal, the allowance shall be equivalent to double the total expenses that the teacher will incur every month in additional public transportation from the nearest capital town or urban center where he or she is assigned.

If the teacher assigned to a far-flung barrio will need to stay in a temporary housing facility, the head of the barangay in that area is mandated to secure suitable and safe housing for the teacher, as stated under the bill.

“Teachers go to extreme lengths for their students and it is only appropriate that we establish necessary measures to recognize their heroic deeds,” the authors of HB 456 explained in their bill. – Janvic Mateo, Delon Porcalla

WORLD TEACHERS’ DAY

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